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  • I-Witness
Published 12 May 2023
4 -min Read

DAC Tay Wee Li’s policing journey has been defined by a sense of duty towards the Force and her family.

By: Christabelle Lim

On 12 February 2014, then Superintendent (Supt) Tay Wee Li was pretty sure she was going to be heading to work as usual the next day. As the Commanding Officer of Bukit Panjang Neighbourhood Police Centre, she was looking forward to meeting her Community Policing Unit officers and hear about their new initiatives.

But first, it was back home after a long workday to meet her girls. At just two-and-a-half years old, the lively twins were always glad to have some precious play and bonding time with their mother.

That’s when Supt Tay’s phone rang.

It was from the Director of Manpower’s (DMP) Personal Assistant: “Wee Li, DMP wants to see you tomorrow morning.”

“Was I in trouble?” she thought to herself, “there was only one way to find out.”

The next morning, she learnt that she was tasked to report to Woodlands Checkpoint the very next day. “The moment I stepped out of DMP’s office, the posting minute was sent out.”

Supt Tay knew what her mission was. Having joined the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in 2002, she was ready to do her part.

On Valentine’s Day 2014, barely 24 hours after meeting DMP, Supt Tay reported to her new post as Commanding Officer, Checkpoints, with the mandate to review and enhance land checkpoint operations in partnership with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

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DAC Tay Wee Li, Deputy Commander of the PCG. PHOTO: Roger Yue III

A Multifaceted Career
For Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Tay, that moment was just another in her career when she answered the call of duty without reservation. As Assistant Director, Major Security Events Division, Operations Department, she had led the planning and execution of Police operations for major public events such as the National Day Parade, Singapore Grand Prix and Trump-Kim Summit.

After a stint as Assistant Director with the Police Intelligence Department, DAC Tay assumed the post of Deputy Commander of the Police Coast Guard (PCG) in 2021. She’s also a member of the Police Women’s Committee, which looks into matters that affect the SPF’s female officers, and she knows the sacrifices that parents in uniform often have to make.

“My girls were either asleep when I got home, or when I left for work,” recalled DAC Tay of the early days of her Checkpoints posting, when her team had to conduct multiple exercises at the checkpoints during odd hours, in order to avoid the morning and evening peak periods.

“That was when my ‘mum guilt’ would kick in,” she shared, “but at the end of the day, everything worked out because of the strong support I received from my family, supervisors and team.”

Set on Making it Work
That’s one of DAC Tay’s defining traits – no matter what the challenge is, she’s determined to make it work. “Having good time management skills is essential,” she explained. “This isn’t just applicable for mothers, but for all officers. We have the same 24 hours a day and need to spend them well in our personal and professional lives.”

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Candid moments with her family. PHOTOS: DAC Tay Wee Li

DAC Tay shared that over the recent Labour Day public holiday, her family went to the movies while she reported for duty as Watch Supervisor at the Police Operations Command Centre. But the family made sure that they had breakfast together before her shift, and dinner thereafter: “It’s about working around the schedule as much as possible, to spend quality time with our loved ones.”

A Leader in the Force
In her current role as Deputy Commander of the PCG, DAC Tay keeps a watchful eye on the officers, processes and operations that ensure our territorial waters are safe. “We place great emphasis on our people to make sure that they are effective in their duties and return safely after their shifts,” she explained.

One of DAC Tay’s role in the Police Women’s Committee, is to oversee family-centric initiatives for female officers in the Force. According to her, working mothers can continue to excel in their careers.

“In the PCG, for instance, we consider how officers who’re expecting or have very young children can have postings with regular office hours,” she shared, “although such arrangements are of course subject to specific operational requirements.”

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DAC Tay and family spending quality time together. PHOTO: DAC Tay Wee Li

I asked DAC Tay if she ever regretted accepting the Checkpoints posting in 2014, when her kids were just two-and-a-half years old. There was a wistful pause, then a resolute answer: “No.”

And now that her twins are 12 years old, DAC Tay says with a chuckle that she’s become their excuse to stay up past bedtime, “as they eagerly wait for me to come home after my work!”

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