Cultivate professionalism and pride in security officers

Jokes and negative anecdotes proliferate in relation to auxiliary police officers and security officers.

They are often referred to as "jagas" (a rather derogatory term for a watchman) and "wannabe cops".

Their behaviour also leaves much to be desired.

For instance, last Thursday, I was at a mall in Jurong when the security guard completely lost control of the taxi queue.

I gently suggested to him that he let commuters know exactly where they should be standing in line. He proceeded to hurl abuse at me.

Such behaviour results in men and women not wanting to be a part of the industry.

The security industry must take measures to upgrade itself. This will make it a job worthy enough to attract those who want to make it a career.

Even while attempts are being made to attract recruits from overseas ("Certis Cisco recruiting officers from Taiwan"; Dec 28, 2016 and "Not enough qualified Singaporeans, Malaysians for auxiliary police forces"; Dec 29, 2016), efforts should be made at home to cultivate professionalism and pride among members of the security industry.

This goes beyond smart uniforms and shiny boots - auxiliary police men and women, and security officers, must understand that theirs is essentially a people business.

They must be trained to know how to balance being vigilant and stern while being courteous and polite.

Organisations like the Security Industry Institute have a big role to play to change the public's perception about members of the industry.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Cultivate professionalism and pride in security officers'. Print Edition | Subscribe