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  • I-Witness
Published 14 July 2023
3-min Read

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

Photo of female officer, Sergeant Sally, in tied back hair, white uniform, standing infront of the Hougang NPC signage. Bottom of the photo has some vectors that say "Hougang"
PHOTO: Roger Yue III

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!

police officers interacting with a bunch of students, in their home clothes, sitting on the asphalt of the playground with handphones in the hands
Former Commanding Officer of Hougang NPC, Superintendent of Police (now DAC) Allan Tay, at left, interacting with students at Block 401 Hougang Avenue 10, a Pokemon Go hotspot. PHOTO: SPF

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.

a poster showing an in game footage from Pokemon go, with advisory messages on the right in white text against a blue background
The Police advisory that was issued by Hougang NPC on its Facebook page. PHOTO: SPF

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.

police officers sitting at a coffeeshop table in their police uniform, turning back and smiling for the camera
DAC Allan Tay (second from left) eating with his officers during their break. PHOTO: SPF

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!

a facebook post screenshot of the hougang npc officers eating in public
Hougang NPC posted about their officers eating at public eateries. The post and hashtags went viral and was shared extensively by other NPCs too. PHOTO: SPF

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.

sergeant sally in her white cpu polo tee, standing infront of a wall with a mural. The mural design is architectural like and vectored
Sgt Sally Chiam, a former art teacher, joined the SPF in 2013 and is now a CPU officer with Hougang NPC. Behind her is a wall mural she designed for Ang Mo Kio Division. PHOTO: Roger Yue III

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. 

sergeant sally and a malay colleague, talking a high point selfie, with a group of elderly holding musical equipment sitting in a circle and smiling fo the camera
Sgt Chiam (right), taking a selfie with Hougang residents during her years as a Ground Response Officer, before becoming a CPU officer. PHOTO: SPF

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.

sergeant sally, in a blue t-shirt and black shorts, sitting on the floor, with canvas paintings aligned beside her
Sgt Chiam with some of her paintings that she has done during her free time. PHOTO: Sgt Sally Chiam

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. 

a watercolour painting of a police building, with hints of orange and blue and grey and yellow
A wall painting by Sgt Chiam for Hougang NPC’s multi-purpose room. PHOTO: Roger Yue III

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!

Want to learn more about the other NPCs from "Our NPCs" series? Click here to find out more: Queenstown, Orchard, Changi, Nanyang and Woodlands West.

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