Doing something extra in special task team

PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A typical day for investigation officer Rohana Ramlan, 39, involves combing through stacks of paper work to trace the culprits behind various commercial crimes.

But if the police need to respond to public order incidents, she could be one of six or seven female police officers deployed to the front line, as part of the elite Special Women's Task Team (SWTT).

She was handpicked to join its pioneer batch of 23 female officers in 2007, when the Singapore Police Force (SPF) introduced a women-only task force to deal with public disobedience or disorder situations involving women, children and the elderly.

Now into her 20th year with the police, Ms Rohana's full-time role is with the Commercial Crime Squad. Like her, SWTT officers hold various regular appointments in the force.

"I wanted to do something extra besides just my role as a police officer. So I gave it a try, went for the interview and I got selected. For me, it's just like a co-curricular activity," said Ms Rohana.

Trained to handle passive resistance incidents such as non-violent protests, SWTT officers are commonly deployed for major national events such as the New Year countdown celebrations and the South-east Asia Games.

"Once we're activated, we'll have to be on standby till the deployment ends. Sometimes, this can last up to 12 hours," she added.

And while long hours on the job sometimes leave the mother of twin boys, aged five, with little time for her family, she stressed that time management is key.

Said Ms Rohana, who is married to a fellow police officer: "I will focus on finishing my work during the weekdays.

"Sometimes I get rostered to work on weekends, but if my husband and I are both off, it's a must for us to spend time with our children."

Ms Rohana believes that she has come a long way since she joined the force at 19.

She said: "Back then, I was timid, girly and loved to stay at home. My parents were shocked and worried when they found out I wanted to join the force, but I told them to just trust me and my decision.

"It's a challenging job and you face different things every day, but that's what I enjoy about it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Doing something extra in special task team'. Print Edition | Subscribe