Female police officers hold their own in the front line

SINGAPORE - When Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Irene Ang, 46, says female officers are in the same league as the men, she has the experience to back her words.

The mother of three has been deployed to Timor Leste twice, in 2007 and 2009, for year-long tours of duty. There, she oversaw 5,000 United Nations (UN) peacekeepers as chief manpower officer, as well as acted as covering chief of staff of the UN peacekeeping mission.

ASP Ang, the commanding officer of the compliance management unit in the Airport Police Division, was one of the female officers who took part in the Police Day Parade last Tuesday.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of women in the Singapore Police Force - women first entered the force in 1949, when 10 joined as members of the Women Special Constabulary.

The Singapore police force now has 1,500 female officers, making up about 17 per cent of the force.

ASP Ang recalled having to deal with spontaneous riots and demonstrations when she was on patrol, as well as street vigilantes.

"The situation could turn hostile at any time," said the 25-year police veteran.

"Riots were common, as were family violence cases."

Like ASP Ang, K-9 unit dog handler Teo Hong Ling, 25, has memorable stories from the frontline. The senior staff sergeant recalled a case where officers found drugs on a suspect during a road block, but could not find anything incriminating in his sports utility vehicle.

But her narcotic-detector dog, a labrador called Duffy, helped sniff out drugs hidden in the vehicle's gearbox.

As for traffic police officer Nur Hafizah Norizan, 23, she said she did not mind the regular 12-hour shifts and long hours on the road.

There is often an advantage to being a female police officer, said Sergeant Nur Hafizah.

"Part of my job involves interacting with and educating road users, and as a woman officer, I can empathise more and connect with them better," she said.

ASP Ang agreed: "There is just this human touch that comes from being a female officer."

This article was first published on June 9, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.