Wanted: More women police officers

While Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee envisions a day when his job will be done by a woman, he pointed out rlast Saturday that there were currently too few of them in the force.

There are 1,500 policewomen in active service - "making up barely 17 per cent of our force", said Mr Ng. "My hope is that we can reach 20 per cent women soon and, ultimately, have at least a third of all police officers be of the fairer sex."

To help reach the target, he announced at an event celebrating 65 years of women in policing that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) will soon set up a Women's Committee. Led by the highest-ranking policewoman, Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Zuraidah Abdullah, the committee will comprise members from all ranks and will help the force become an even more "female-friendly organisation".

While there are already flexible work arrangements in place allowing women to work from home, the committee will help to provide "even more support" for women officers, added Mr Ng.

SAC Zuraidah said that she will act as a "point of contact" to consult women officers on issues that have an impact on them, such as improving human resource policies for work-life balance. The committee will also advise on manpower strategies to improve recruitment numbers for women and boost camaraderie among women officers, she added.

About 650 women officers, including Voluntary Special Constable and retired women officers, attended the event on Saturday at Neverland II at St James Power Station. It was held in conjunction with International Women's Day.

During his speech, Mr Ng highlighted that today's young women do not have to "overcome any prejudice" or "break any barriers" to join the force unlike in previous years - the first batch of 10 women joined the force in March 1949 - where women were "confined to administrative duties and dealing with cases connected to women and children".

"There is no glass ceiling in the police. Women officers are judged on exactly the same merits as the men," he added.

Crime control officer Patricia Seow, 27, who has been with the force for four years, said: "We go through the Individual Physical Proficiency Test and shooting tests... Whatever the guys do, we do too."

"There's a general perception that women can't handle blood and gore," added senior investigation officer Sindhu Dasan, 28. Her parents were surprised with her career choice after she studied sociology in university. "But I explained what I wanted and they could see that I enjoyed my job."

Vivid memory of 4-year-old's death

Over the 22 years that Assistant Superintendent of Police Khamisah Talip (right) has been with the police, the 42-year-old has handled her share of child abuse, outrage of modesty and death cases.

But one in particular remains fresh in her memory - that of ex-air stewardess Constance Chee. She was sentenced to 13 years' jail for abducting and causing the death of her ex-lover's four-year-old daughter, Sindee Neo, in 2004.

Sindee, who was Mr Neo Eng Tong's only child, was found at the foot of a Telok Blangah Crescent block after having fallen from a high floor. ASP Khamisah, who was with the preliminary investigations team for the case, said that it was hard to not be "emotional" when the child eventually died after being in critical condition for a few days.

"It was hard as I was a mother of two then... ."

But looking back, the episode has made her more resilient and helped her to realise the importance of spending quality time with her three children.

Now the officer in charge of the violence against persons squad, she said: "Life is short... So even though they (her children) are big now, I still take them to school and try to make it (home) for dinner.

"Sometimes I come home late at 3am or 4am, but I always tell my children ibu (mother) is working hard for the family."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg


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