Volunteer bike patrols help keep expanding Clementi safe

Volunteer bike patrols help keep expanding Clementi safe
(From left) Volunteer Special Constabulary officers Jason Sim, 28, and Jocelyn Choo, 22, patrolling the Toh Guan neighbourhood on bicycles with Community Policing officers Muhammad Rathomi, 30, and Nurul Jannah, 26.

DRIVEN by passion and commitment, 20 volunteer police officers have been helping to patrol the streets of Clementi since last month.

They move around the neighbourhood on bicycles and on foot, clad in white polo tees and dark blue shorts.

They were introduced as Clementi Police Division needed more manpower to patrol the expanding area under its charge, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Mark Chow, who heads the volunteer unit there.

"New developments like shopping malls Westgate and Jem and Ng Teng Fong Hospital mean that we now have a bigger area to cover," he said.

His division has a pool of 60 in its Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC), which is made up of part-time officers who hold day jobs and help out with policing in their free time.

The scheme, which harks back to 1946, now requires volunteers to go through a 26-week training course before qualifying. Officers must fulfil 16 hours of duty a month.

There are about 800 VSC officers in Singapore. Of its 60 VSC officers, Clementi Police Division selected 20 based on their performance and willingness to commit to join its Community Policing Unit (CPU), which involves bicycle patrols. This scheme was started in 2012 to bring police officers closer to the ground.

Before, the CPU was staffed only by full-time officers.

"Having volunteer officers in the CPU helps us increase police presence on the ground and build rapport with the residents," said DSP Chow.

National University of Singapore student Jocelyn Choo, who is studying for an engineering degree, is the youngest member of the Clementi CPU. The 21-year-old said she finds the commitment to the CPU manageable. During school holidays, she can clock up to 100 hours of patrolling in a month.

"I don't find it strenuous as I get to help people in need and engage the public," said Ms Choo, who has been a police volunteer for three years.

Besides, she plans to join the police force eventually. "Volunteering helped me become more certain of that decision," she said.



This article was first published on May 22, 2015.
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