Join us in our “Our NPCs” series as we explore Hougang NPC, which is breaking barriers with new ways to engage with the public!
By: Domnic Dass
Hougang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) was officially opened on 7 January 2001 and is one of the five NPCs under Ang Mo Kio Division. Known for its innovative public engagement initiatives and buoyant social media presence, Hougang NPC has amassed a substantial following, making it the most followed NPC on Facebook!
A “Legendary” but Unique Challenge
The Pokemon Go craze in 2016 brought both excitement and challenges to Block 401 at Hougang Avenue 10 and the adjacent Punggol Park. As legendary and rare Pokemon appeared in the area, hundreds of players flocked to Block 401 and Punggol Park, causing noise and leaving behind litter. Irked residents also shared feedback about the lack of parking spaces caused by the crowds.
Under the leadership of its former Commanding Officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police (DAC) Allan Tay, Hougang NPC took proactive measures to address the situation. Officers increased patrols in the area to discourage risky behaviour (such as crossing the road while engrossed in Pokemon Go) and maintain safety and cleanliness. Officers also worked closely with the Land Transport Authority on parking matters and with the town council to assist with cleaning.
Hougang NPC also utilised its social media platforms to share advisories on playing Pokemon Go responsibly and safely. These efforts received praise from the public for effectively engaging players.
Debunking an Urban Myth
Hougang NPC also dispelled the misconception that Police officers are prohibited from dining in public while in uniform. Yes, like any Singaporean, our officers love to tuck into a delicious lunch!
On 19 March 2017, Hougang NPC made a viral Facebook post featuring its officers dining in public. In addition to showcasing the officers, the post also encouraged the public to join them for lunch, so as to establish a friendly contact point with residents.
Talent Knows No Bounds
Want to know more about the officers of Hougang NPC? Meet Sgt Sally Chiam, a Community Policing Unit (CPU) officer who designs captivating murals for NPCs.
What motivated you to become a Police officer?
After graduating from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, I worked as an art teacher in a children’s art school. I was considering a career switch after two years as I wanted to serve and contribute to the community. The moment I saw a Singapore Police Force (SPF) poster at a bus-stop, I knew what to do. Eager to step out of my comfort zone and embrace new challenges, I made the decision to pursue this path.
In fact, it’s always been my dream to be a police officer. In primary school, we were asked to write about our aspirations. I considered becoming a scientist, doctor or police officer. My inspiration was a neighbour who’d been a police officer. Her friendly and composed demeanour left a lasting impression on me.
How do you bring art into your work as an officer?
I help to draw mini caricatures for participants during our community events. It typically takes a few minutes. I’ve also created art pieces for several NPCs.
How does your art add value to your work as a CPU officer?
As a CPU officer, I’m involved in a lot of Hougang NPC’s community programmes and initiatives. Currently, I contribute to various community events and home visits by setting up a booth to draw caricatures. The children enjoy watching the creative process of my drawing, and through my participation, I bring smiles to their faces!