Creating a supportive environment at Clementi Police Division for officers to learn, explore and innovate!
By: Goh Qiu Ting
When Police Life met Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ong Kwee Leong in his office at Clementi Police Division, his uniform hung smartly behind him, and he gave us a warm welcome.
With 20 years of experience under his belt, DSP Ong started his career with Jurong Police Division as a Ground Response Force officer before progressing up the ranks to his current role as Head, Training Branch, Clementi Police Division.
This role requires him to see the big picture and help his officers develop a learning mindset, grow their skill-sets and become more effective as officers. It’s a vocation that DSP Ong has thoroughly embraced, and as he shared about his team’s approach to training, he reminded me of a school principal who’s eager to help his students develop to their fullest potential.
For DSP Ong, good training for officers of Clementi Police Division begins with a comprehensive training curriculum. To design this, the Training Branch uses a range of assessment tools to identify gaps in learning so that these can be addressed.
Technology plays a part too. Officers go through lesson packages and do quizzes on an online training portal, which allows them to learn at their own pace. The results are then analysed by the Training Branch so that officers can identify areas for improvement and chart their growth.
DSP Ong stands firm on having clear objectives for training sessions and encourages officers to draw on their frontline experience to come up with better solutions. “We innovate through training, thanks to our officers,” he said. “Because they’re always on the ground, they know what’s happening.”
Learning Strategies in Action
According to DSP Ong, a supportive training environment lets officers learn from their mistakes. “That’s why my trainers make their sessions engaging,” he explained. “If someone makes a mistake, they can all look at it with the right mindset and, most importantly, reflect and improve.”
Another strategy that the Training Branch employs is roleplaying in a supervisory capacity. From table-top exercises to ground deployment exercises, officers typically go through scenarios at different levels or take turns to roleplay as team leaders.
Not only does this help officers to see issues from a fresh perspective, it also broadens their competencies and prepares them for future deployments as supervisors on the ground. “When we actually try something ourselves,” explained DSP Ong, “rather than just hear about it from someone else, we’ll understand and learn better.”
Innovation through Training
This empowerment strategy bore fruit for an innovation project in 2022 that got its start when officers considered how they could better secure their side-arms during training exercises. The idea eventually took the form of a bicycle seat cover that was adapted into a Side-arm Cover that officers could swiftly mount on their side-arm during exercises.
After further consultations, the project team improved the Cover’s securing mechanism and changed it from black to a bright yellow, to enhance its visibility. The Cover has since been operationalised for use by officers at all divisions for training and ground deployment exercises.
For DSP Ong, this project demonstrates the importance of being receptive to new ideas: “When it comes to self-improvement, we need to keep an open mind and be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Building Effective Relationships
DSP Ong shared that one of his key leadership principles is to build effective relationships. “There are times when things don’t work out for us, but close ties will keep us going,” he said. “Having the support of our supervisors and colleagues goes a long way. This is why I believe a phone call is better than an email when it comes to understanding someone else’s views or resolving an issue.”
It’s this mindset that has allowed DSP Ong and his team at the Training Branch to lead by example. Happy Teacher’s Day, DSP Ong!
Singapore Police Force (SPF) Training Awards 2023
DSP Ong Kwee Leong and his team at the Training Branch, Clementi Police Division, are one of 11 to receive the Training Team of the Year Award at this year’s SPF Training Awards Ceremony. Held on 29 August 2023, the Awards recognise the achievements of Trainers (both Full-Time and Adjunct) and Training Teams for their contributions in advancing training excellence. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients!
Read Part 2 of this series: Trainers in Blue: Pursuing Our Potential.