Beauty queen who always wanted to serve

Being crowned Miss World Singapore last year in no way diminished Ms Dalreena Poonam Gill Ganesan's long-held desire to join the police force. She felt it was the right path for her because she loves taking on a challenge. She was also inspired by he
Being crowned Miss World Singapore last year in no way diminished Ms Dalreena Poonam Gill Ganesan's long-held desire to join the police force. She felt it was the right path for her because she loves taking on a challenge. She was also inspired by her father, who is a retired army regular.PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Months before she was crowned Miss World Singapore in September last year, Ms Dalreena Poonam Gill Ganesan had already opted to don a blue uniform.

The 21-year-old signed up online to join the Singapore Police Force (SPF) early last year - a career choice influenced by her father, a retired army regular, and her friends in the Home Team.

"I always wanted to be in one of the forces. As I grew older, I narrowed my choice to the police," she said. "I felt it was the right path for me since I enjoy challenges. I was also inspired by what my friends shared about their experiences."

The 1.72m tall beauty queen, who is an only child, went on to compete in the Miss World finals in London in December last year before starting her police training in April.

As part of her six-month training, she completed a short attachment with the Jurong West Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC).

She responded to her first case on Oct 12, when a fire broke out at a gas manufacturing firm along Tanjong Kling Road that left one dead and seven injured.

She was initially tasked to cordon off the area and direct people out of the premises. But later, as the only female police officer on the scene, she stepped in to help retrieve the body parts of the female victim in the firm's laboratory.

"I knew she had just come back from maternity leave and had a young daughter. I had to put my emotions away," she said. "I didn't feel scared by the incident, but I felt really sad for what happened to her.

"So far, this experience has taught me the most. I learnt how to manage my emotions and also how to manage the scene."

There were just 16 trainees in her squad, and she recalled how they forged close ties and supported one another. One training task involved navigating around a pitch-dark building to gather evidence.

She has since started work as a police officer at Queenstown NPC, after graduating last month.

"People expect more when they know I was Miss Singapore, but I take it positively and tell them it's very different. You can learn only hands on as a police officer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Beauty queen who always wanted to serve'. Print Edition | Subscribe