Normal citizen in the week, arm of the law on the weekends

The first batch of Voluntary Special Constabulary (Community) officers patrolling Serangoon Garden Market and Food Centre on May 12, 2018.
The first batch of Voluntary Special Constabulary (Community) officers patrolling Serangoon Garden Market and Food Centre on May 12, 2018.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Ms Lena Wan and Mr Wong Chee Wai stopped by the table of Mr Lee Kim Seng, 72, at Serangoon Garden Market and Food Centre on Saturday (May 12) morning, passing him a leaflet on online scams.

The uniformed pair struck up a conversation with the retired transportation officer, asking him if he was aware of the ways people could lose their money online. After they were confident that he knew what to look out for, they smiled and bade him goodbye.

Ms Wan, 53, is actually an administrative executive in a counselling centre, and Mr Wong, 47, is a primary school vice-principal. But they are among the first batch of about 40 Volunteer Special Constabulary (Community) officers doing their patrols around Singapore.

These are individuals who are keen to join the police force as volunteer officers but may not be able to commit the time.

Under a new Singapore Police Force scheme, individuals can sign up to be volunteer officers but with shorter training and patrol duty commitments. They need only to undergo training of seven weeks and perform at least eight hours of patrol duty monthly.

This is in contrast to the regular Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) scheme, which requires officers to undergo six months of training, with a minimum of 16 hours of patrol duty per month.

Unlike regular police and VSC officers, the VSC (Community) officers do not carry firearms. But they still have arrest powers, and carry batons, handcuffs and communication sets. They will move around on public transportation and wear a new uniform of a blue polo T-shirt and black cargo pants.

 

Ms Wan said that she wanted to become a VSC (Community) officer to serve the community. "I have a passion for helping people - I used to teach marketable skills to young people overseas so that they can find jobs," she said.

She added: "I'm a people person and work in a counselling centre, so I also don't have any problems talking with strangers."

When asked what she would do if she were on patrol and saw her neighbour breaking the law, she said: "I would deal with the situation in an impartial way. The point is that my neighbour has broken the law and has to be dealt with according to the law. That same law applies to family and friends."

Accompanying her on patrol was Mr Loo Jian Kai, 24, a second-year criminology and security student at the Singapore Institute of Technology. He said that he particularly liked that he could apply what he learnt in school to the real world.

A police spokesman said: "Since the launch of the VSC (Community) scheme last month, officers have been enthusiastic in carrying out their duties.

"During patrols at the neighbourhoods, residents are happy to see the officers and welcome the stronger police presence on the ground. We hope to encourage more volunteers to step forward and join them."

Mr Lee, the diner who chatted with Ms Wan and Mr Wong, said he found it good to see members of the public signing up to be volunteer officers. "It is a good way for you to give advice to your friends and family, and they will more likely listen," he said.

He added that he would be interested in signing up for the scheme.

Singaporeans who are 18 years and above, and are interested to join the VSC (Community) vocation can sign up at https://gems.gevme.com/volunteer-registration-62562051