Keep boots on the ground to better fight crime

In this age of advanced technology, it seems like a paradox to rely on manpower.

Indeed, modern technology has aided the surveillance of crime. But does this mean there is no need for boots on the ground?

Neighbourhood police posts have been around in Singapore for decades. They have played a key role in reducing crime, as the police were close by, not just to arrest people but also to provide a deterrent presence and facilitate peace and order.

We also deploy patrol cars on our roads and highways to keep our drivers in check. The fact that they can pop up anywhere and anytime makes them a more effective deterrent than fixed speed cameras, which reckless motorists can anticipate and slow down for.

We have seen how crime can be prevented when a potential offender knows that someone is watching, and how crime rates increased in countries where manpower has been reduced.

Manpower may come with costs, but technology can fail, and we still need a human behind that camera or computer to decide if further action is needed. Oftentimes, a calm, experienced police officer is needed to defuse a tense situation and prevent conflicts from boiling over. Our men in blue can never be replaced by a camera or computer.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'Keep boots on the ground to better fight crime'. Print Edition | Subscribe