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  • I-Witness
Published 29 January 2024
5-min Read

An inside look into the training journey of a Senior Officer Trainee.

By: ASP Warren Liow

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Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Warren Liow. PHOTO: Soh Ying Jie

Ever thought about joining the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and wondered about the training that all aspiring officers undergo? In this series of articles, I’ll give you a glimpse of what it’s like to train in the Training Command (TRACOM) as a Senior Officer Trainee.

Taking the First Step
In 2019, I had an opportune internship with the SPF’s Digital Transformation Department (currently known as Ops-Tech Department). While working on the Police Smartphone project, I conducted user interviews with Police officers to understand their work processes and brainstormed together on possible applications to augment their daily work. This valuable experience revealed the interdisciplinary and dynamic nature of policing work, fuelling my passion in pursuing a career with the SPF to safeguard the nation while acquiring new knowledge across multiple domains.

After completing my university studies in August 2023, I embarked on my first step towards this aspiration upon being enlisted as a Senior Officer Trainee. I’m currently undergoing the rigorous nine-month training programme - the Senior Officer Basic Course (SOBC). The main objective of SOBC is to nurture and develop us into operational Police leaders by equipping us with the policing knowledge, operational skillsets and leadership competencies through three focal milestones comprising the Police Officer Basic Course and Ground Response Force component; Criminal Law and Criminal Investigation knowledge; and Experiential Leadership Training.

Police Officer Basic Course and Ground Response Force Component
In the first phase, when most of us were still greenhorns in police training, the focus is on building robust fundamentals – ensuring that we’re physically fit and equipped with both hard and soft skills for effective incident management on the ground. The intended outcomes also involve inculcating a sense of professionalism through instilling discipline and being well-versed in the knowledge of the law and police operating procedures to ensure the judicious exercise of police powers and justice.

Physical Exercises – Getting Fit
Curious about how we spend a typical day at training? Our daily schedule starts with physical training in the early morning and ends with a late afternoon workout before dinner. These include endurance runs, muscle strengthening exercises and team bonding activities to ensure that we’re conditioned, both physically and mentally, for the Experiential Leadership Training that will be conducted locally and at Nepal.

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Squad photo after physical training with our Course Manager, Deputy Superintendent of Police Jeremy Png, who ran together with us. PHOTO: Sim Li-Anne

Tactical Training – Real-life Situations
During the course of their duties, Police officers will often encounter situations where they’ll have to deal with unruly subjects, engage in public order situations and arrest subjects. To ensure that we’re well-prepared, the course places heavy emphasis on ensuring that we’re well-trained to handle all types of real-life scenarios to uphold the law and protect life and property.

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Undergoing a Taser training with my squadmates. PHOTO: Jade Chan

The training included Contact Tactics, during which we learnt self-defence manoeuvres, takedowns and arrest methods. We’re also taught how to handle weaponry such as the GLOCK pistol and Taser, safely and justifiably.

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The tactical training allowed me to forge strong bonds with my squadmates. PHOTO: Shawn Ee

For me, the First Responder Training was the highlight of the tactical training. It taught us how to respond to various public security incidents such as armed attacks and rioting crowds. I’m now better prepared to save lives and respond to such threats! Through these trainings, I’ve also strengthened the bonds with my squadmates to better support each other and work together as a team.

Continuous Learning – Law and Legislations
On the academic front (which brought back memories of my school days), we were taught law statutes, basic investigation skills, police doctrines and standard operating procedures.

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My squad setting up simulated roadblocks at the Training Village. PHOTO: Javan Seow

Apart from theory lessons, we also had opportunities to learn through hands-on practices. In one of the sessions, we simulated a police roadblock at the Home Team Academy’s Training Village, where we worked in collaboration to run through the whole set-up, workflow and discussed the possible challenges faced in such ground operations. Another interesting lesson was the On-Scene Investigation, where we learnt how to use various tools to dust the case exhibits for latent fingerprints.

What I found most meaningful were the scenario-based trainings, which provided us with opportunities to apply what we’d learnt in theory to the likely situations that we would encounter on the ground. The subsequent after-action reviews (commonly known as AAR) also helped me structure my thinking process and identify areas for improvement.

NPC Attachment – Stepping into the Real World
After 17 weeks of lessons and assessments, it was finally time to go on to the ground and apply what we’d learnt! I had a very meaningful attachment at Geylang Neighbourhood Police Centre, where I got to learn from experienced Police officers and the various incidents that I had attended to.

One of the role models that left a deep impression on me was Sergeant (Sgt) Lim Zhi Hao, whose calm and patient composure when dealing with difficult subjects was very inspiring. It was exemplified when we attended to a case of an elderly hoarder who was burning cardboard and wood inside his home to cook. This was the first time I came across a resident who had no access to electricity or utilities.

Upon the first contact, the elderly hoarder was very angry and had refused to acknowledge us. However, Sgt Lim did not give up. He was very patient and constantly explained to the disgruntled resident that the Police were there to provide necessary assistance. Eventually, the elderly hoarder calmed down, accepted Sgt Lim’s advice, and the whole situation was de-escalated, with the case being referred to the relevant agencies to provide support for this resident.

I’m very thankful to be part of such a close-knit family that welcomed me with open arms. It was very energising to serve the community with my brothers and sisters in blue – a good reminder of why I wanted to become a Police officer!

What’s Next?
Looking back at the past five months, I’m now better able to take stock and appreciate the challenges of the gruelling trainings and academic lessons. These coaching and experiences have all contributed to my growth as a thinker and a team player, and prepared me to take on the role as an operational leader in the SPF.

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At the Warrant Card Ceremony with Officer-in-Charge of the Leadership and Executive Training School, Superintendent of Police Polly Ting. PHOTO: Sorn Pherom

I started my training journey asking myself what truly mattered to me. Now, I can firmly say that the most important thing is to enjoy whatever comes next, to work with my new comrades and to support each other. With this newfound perspective, I’m excited to embark on the next two phases of life in TRACOM!

Learning to Lead
On the next step in his training journey to become a Senior Officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Warren Liow will reveal more about his Criminal Law and Criminal Investigation training. Of course, all work and no play makes ASP Liow a dull boy – he’ll also be sharing on other light-hearted activities, including participation in a 3v3 Basketball Tournament, cross-country, swimming and tug-of-war. Stay tuned!

Kickstart your SPF journey today and step up to a career that goes beyond! Visit our website to find out more. 

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