Teacher who volunteers as cop joins in celebrations for police force's 200th anniversary

The Police Bicentennial run, the first in a series of commemorative events marking SPF's 200th anniversary.
The Police Bicentennial run, the first in a series of commemorative events marking SPF's 200th anniversary.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Mr Tan Chee Wee, 42, might have been a policeman if he had not chosen to be a teacher. 

He had reservations about joining the Singapore Police Force (SPF) because his fitness level was not deemed to be at the top during his national service in the military. This could have affected his progression as a police officer.

He eventually found a win-win solution as a Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) officer, which he signed up for in 2002 when studying at the National Institute of Education.

Since then the Hwa Chong Institution teacher has served at Jurong West Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) before being transferred to Choa Chu Kang NPC last year.

The VSC was formed immediately after World War II, in 1946, to assist regular police officers. VSC officers are vested with the powers of a police officer, including those of arrest.

Mr Tan's commitment sees him spend weekends and school holidays in various roles, including assisting regular SPF officers and patrolling the neighbourhood. His shifts sometimes last 14 hours.

However, he finds his time as a VSC officer meaningful as it allows him to engage with and help the community, such as mediating in domestic disputes.

Aside from teaching mathematics, Mr Tan is the Principal Consultant for student development in school. He is also involved in two CCAs - National Police Cadet Corps and Scouts.

Mr Tan mentioned that both his roles as a teacher and a VSC officer complement each other by making him more patient when it comes to dealing with different types of people.

"In school, I have to be patient with the students and their parents," he explained. "As a VSC officer, I have to be patient with the public who sometimes have unreasonable expectations of the police force."

The teacher is one of the participants of the Police Bicentennial (SPF200) run, the first in a series of commemorative events marking SPF's 200th anniversary.

 
 

Commencing on Friday (Jan 10), the run saw police officers completing a total relay distance of 200km in 24 hours, while passing through the sites of 30 past and present SPF establishments across Singapore.

The final leg of the run was flagged off by President Halimah Yacob on Saturday (Jan 11) at the Marina Barrage, with more than 3,200 SPF officers and their family members participating.

The run was followed by the official launch of the SPF200 by Madam Halimah at the OCBC Square, Singapore Sports Hub. A set of six stamps commemorating SPF's bicentennial was also unveiled during the launch ceremony.

In her speech at the ceremony, Madam Halimah acknowledged the essential role the SPF played in protecting Singapore against newer threats such as terrorism and cyber-crime as well as the importance of a strong police-community partnership.

She also expressed her appreciation to the family members of the officers. "The life of a police officer is one of late nights, sudden activations, and long hours away from home," she said.

"Thank you for the love, understanding and support you have shown to our officers through the years."

Sisters Winnie and Eunice Loke, who are both serving in the SPF, were among those taking part in the run.

 
 

Older sister, Winnie, 33, joined the SPF as a civilian officer, and is currently attached to the Public Affairs Department.

Eunice, 29, is currently a Senior Investigation Officer in the Commercial Affairs Department. She has been with the SPF since 2014.

Despite their busy schedules, the sisters remain close.

"Sometimes we do not see each other for days, but we still text," Eunice said. "We also go on short trips together."

The sisters also mentioned that their parents have no issues with both of them being in SPF.

Mr Tan's parents were also very supportive when he first told them that he had volunteered as a VSC.

The teacher said he would remain a volunteer as long as he could and was thrilled to be taking part in the SPF200 run.

He said: "I think it is great that the SPF includes the VSC in all its events. I feel like I am part of a larger family."