As a senior investigation officer, Station Inspector Mohammad Rosman Hassan trains new investigation officers at Ang Mo Kio Police Division.
For the past year, among his other roles, the 48-year-old has trained at least 15 rookies, many of whom held higher ranks than him, and others who went on to become his superiors.
But now, thanks to the unified rank structure adopted by the Singapore Police Force last July, the seasoned cop will finally get to cross over from the junior officer scheme into the ranks of senior officers.
"It was a challenge seeing officers who came in with degrees climb the ranks faster, but it just motivated me to work harder and put in extra effort to stand out," said Station Insp Rosman, who joined the force in 1991 and started as a constable with partial A-level certification.
Next month, he will become an inspector - the first rung of higher- ranking senior officers.
With the unified rank structure, junior and senior officer schemes will be removed and existing junior officers such as Station Insp Rosman can benefit from faster career progression.
All incoming officers will start on common ground, on the same career track, instead of having non- graduates starting as lower-ranking junior officers and graduates as senior officers.
"To be honest, becoming a senior officer seemed so far away, part of me had given up on it. I've been hoping for close to 20 years to become an inspector," said Station Insp Rosman, who is one of 150 officers who will be promoted to inspector this year. He is among the first batch to benefit under the new scheme.
Station Inspector Jakki Lim, 42, officer in charge of the field support squad at Jurong Police Division's Investigation Branch, will also be promoted to inspector. She had thought the highest rank she would be able to achieve was Senior Station Inspector II - the ceiling for those in the junior scheme.
"Now this scheme gives committed officers more opportunities to progress and be recognised for their hard work, instead of qualifications," said Station Insp Lim, who joined the force in 1996 with an engineering diploma.
From July, the new scheme will also be implemented in other Home Team departments, such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Singapore Prison Service.
About 8,000 non-degree holders will get the opportunity for faster career progression. Previously, there were various routes for junior officers to enter the senior officer scheme, but it required them to go through months of tedious interviews. It could take up to 18 years for a polytechnic diploma holder to become an inspector - the entry rank of a degree holder.
Officers who will be promoted under the new scheme this year told The Straits Times that it gave them assurance and hope.
Senior Station Inspector Oh Kok Soon, 39, column leader with the Special Operations Command's Police Tactical Unit, joined the force in 2000 with Higher Nitec certification.
He said: "I'm now a living example of how hard work and performance can take you places, not just paper qualifications."
Senior Station Inspector Haslina Hassan, deputy officer in charge of operations at Bedok Police Division, said the scheme will spur seasoned officers to stay and share their experience with younger ones.
"It feels good to know you're being recognised not just by your bosses, but the management too. The barrier between junior and senior officers is gone, giving everyone equal opportunity to be promoted based on merits and strengths," said the 41-year- old.
"It reminds us never to give up and to face challenges with a positive attitude. You work hard not because of a rank, but because of your passion. Who knows, one day you might even become commissioner," she said with a laugh.