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The colours of their uniforms may have changed over the years, but their tenacity and dedication remains. Since their entry into the Force in 1949, female police officers have constantly been pushing their boundaries to achieve greater heights in an otherwise male-dominated profession. In celebration of International Women’s Day, let us take a moment to show our appreciation and salute the wonder women in our Force. Tough, passionate and committed, let us hear from eight of our very own female officers who show us what it takes to be that policewoman!  

The Deputy Commander

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Fanny Koh is part of a growing group of female officers who hold leadership positions in the Force. Here is the story of the incumbent Deputy Commander of Protective Security Command (ProCom).

What made you join the Force?

I wanted a non-deskbound job that offers me a host of experiences, giving me insights into the different facets of society. For instance, I can be speaking to a defendant in the morning and hosting dignitaries at the Istana in the evening, all in a single day! It has been a fulfilling 19 years in the Force.

What were some of the stereotypes about female police officers that you have heard? 

It is not so much of stereotypes but I do hear a lot of questions about whether it is more challenging to lead in a male-dominated work environment. It did cross my mind whether I can be effective as a Deputy Commander in ProCom – a National Service-centric outfit – since I have not served National Service. Having been in the post for more than two years, I would like to believe I have contributed in various ways to strengthen ProCom’s capabilities because as a female officer, I am able to see things from a different perspective.

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

It will be the day when I received the National Day Award in 2016 because it was the first time my parents attended a state-level ceremony with me. They are the cornerstone of my life, guiding me to become who I am today. I was really happy that I could acknowledge their impact on my life when they joined me at the award ceremony.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

Certainly not for the faint-hearted and the ‘girl-next-door’ type! They need to have a sense of justice, passion to serve, thirst for challenge and the willingness to go the extra-mile. A policewoman needs to be mentally, emotionally and physically resilient too.

The Ground Response Force Officer

Meet Staff Sergeant Syahirah Binte Zulkepli from Central Division, a young mother to three adorable kids, who patrol the streets to keep Singapore safe and secure. Here is her story.

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What made you join the Force?

In a time when female officers are nearly unheard of, I had one in my family who shaped my childhood dream and became my role model. My aunt was breaking boundaries by achieving everything that they say a woman could not. Thanks to her, I was eager to begin a lifelong passion – joining the Force in 2010 just two weeks after graduating from polytechnic.

What were some of the stereotypes about female police officers that you have heard? 

One notable example of such stereotypes would be that our Individual Physical Proficiency Test standard is lower, suggesting that we are not as fit as the men. This is definitely a myth. I know of many female officers who are fitter than some of our male officers!  

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

Each time when I am out on patrol, there are risks that are unpredictable. To me, coming home to my family safely after every shift is a moment to be proud of. It also means that I have done well in keeping our streets safe. It is the little things that make a great difference.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

A policewoman needs to be able to put aside her emotions and remain professional regardless of the situation. You will witness a myriad of incidents but you cannot let them affect you. A strong personality is needed to be able to deal with the emotional and physical demands of the job. At the same time, our feminine nature gives us an advantage because there are those who feel more comfortable talking to a woman. They relate to us as motherly figures, especially the troubled ones.  Having that female touch can make a world of difference!

The Special Task Squadron Officer

Sergeant (Sgt) Donna Koh proves that female police officers are a hardy bunch. She is part of the pioneer batch of female officers who joined the Police Coast Guard’s (PCG) elite Special Task Squadron (STS). Here is her story. 

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What made you join the Force?

I wanted to protect my family and the country I call home.  

What were some of the stereotypes about female police officers that you have heard? 

I have heard my fair share of stereotypes, mostly female officers not being as capable as their male counterparts. However, that is not true! I am delighted that STS provides opportunities for female officers to be part of their team and they did not lower their standards just to accommodate us. Just like our male counterparts, we have to undergo the same selection process and strenuous training to be full-fledged STS operators. 

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

My proudest moment was the day I graduated from a gruelling six-month STS course. The blood, sweat and tears shed paid off! I felt humbled by the experience and am honoured to be part of PCG’s elite team.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

It is a tough working environment as you will face many adversities while enforcing the law. It is important for us to be mentally and physically strong to overcome such adversities. Policing work is demanding and we must work just as hard as our male colleagues. There is no such thing as ‘discounts’ for being a female officer.

The Traffic Police Officer

Meet Sgt Roszliana Binte Sufaat from Traffic Police, a daughter to a single-mother, who carries out traffic enforcements to ensure the safety for all road users. Here is her story.

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What made you join the Force?

I wanted a non-deskbound job where I can interact with people from all walks of life. More importantly, I wanted a respectable job that makes my mother, who raised me on her own, proud.

What were some of the stereotypes about female police officers that you have heard? 

I have heard that women make terrible bosses as we are too emotional and have mood swings. But men get mood swings too! So, it is only human.

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

It was when I obtained my Class 2i license last year. Being small in stature, the two-month long course was very physically and mentally challenging for me. There were many times when I felt like giving up but with constant encouragement from my instructors, colleagues and family, I was able to accomplish something that I never thought I could - riding the big bike alongside the big boys.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

While female officers need to be able to carry out their duties just as well as their male counterparts, they should still be able to use their femininity advantage to enforce the law with a firm but gentle hand.

The Police Operations Command Centre Officer

With her current role as Officer-in-Charge Sense-Making at the Police Operations Command Centre (POCC), Senior Station Inspector 2 Kartini Binte Keman assists the Watch Commander to manage the POCC duty team in handling non-sensitive and major incidents. Here is her story.

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What made you join the Force?

It was my childhood dream to join the SPF. 

What were some of the stereotypes about female police officers that you have heard? 

The common stereotype that I came across is that male officers are more capable than female officers. With more and more female officers taking up leadership roles in the Force, I believe we have proved them otherwise!  

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

I recently graduated from my six-week Senior Officer Basic Course.  Despite being 46 years old, I managed to complete all of the physical challenges and tasks set forth by the Training Command field instructors.  

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

With the right attitude, female officers can be as capable as their male counterparts. Empathy is also essential. While we serve justice with a firm hand, we must at the same time be able to apply empathy when the situation calls for it. Lastly, always lead by example. After being in the Force for 25 years, I have seen and learnt that leading by example is the best way to motivate and shape the attitude of our officers. 

The Police K-9 Officer

Meet Senior Staff Sergeant Ho Xiuping, a dog handler from the Police K-9 Unit who is a mother to two kids. When activated, she and her canine partner will respond to the call of duty together. Here is her story. 

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What made you join the Force?

I have always wanted a job that gives me an opportunity to make a difference. When I saw the SPF recruitment advertisements, I was inspired! I am proud to be part of a group of dedicated and passionate people who are committed to ensure the safety and security of our home and our people.

What were some of the stereotypes about female officers in the Force that you have heard? 

In this day and age, stereotypes of female officers are no longer as rampant. I have personally seen and observed female officers who are able to juggle their policing duties and family commitments effectively and efficiently.  

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

There was one incident which happened during my three-month attachment at Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) back in 2004. My partner and I were performing a spot-check on a suspicious female subject. While we were checking on her details, she suddenly started running. We gave chase and successfully apprehended her even though she was a really fast runner. The female subject was later found to be wanted for some drug-related offences. Throughout my six months of Police Officer Basic Course training at the Training Command, we had studied theories and gone through exercises. However, to encounter a real incident and practise what has been taught is something very different.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

Female officers are just as professional as their male counterparts. Apart from that, it is important to have a good work-life balance. They need to learn how to spend quality time with their family and be able to juggle policing work at the same time. They must always be able to manage the multiple roles that we have effectively.

The Volunteer Special Constabulary Officer

Meet Sgt Tan Yun Jia from Serangoon NPC. The full-time teacher at Eden Centre for Adults decided to join the Force and be a Volunteer Special Constabulary Officer in 2012. Here is her story.

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What made you join the Force?

I decided to join the Force after watching the Korean television drama Poseidon. I was inspired by the storyline and wanted to make the society a safer place.

What were some of the stereotypes about female officers in the Force that you have heard? 

One of which I heard is that female officers can always use their “feminine charm” to get out of any situations, or to accelerate their rank progression. From what I have observed, this is obviously a myth.

What is your proudest moment in the Force?

Recently, I attended to a case where a fire broke out in a unit. The fire blocked the main door and an elderly lady was trapped inside. My team mates and I worked together with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to quickly evacuate the surrounding units and cordon off the area. This allowed the SCDF to effectively put out the fire and the victim escaped unscathed. She held our hands and thanked us repeatedly. Passers-by also thanked us for our effective management of the situation which help prevented further damage and injuries. This incident motivated me to do better in policing.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

A policewoman is capable of exceeding expectations and achieving her greatest potential through hard work and great teamwork with her fellow colleagues.

The Investigation Officer

Stories of her sister’s work adventures inspired Inspector Stephanie Lim, whose birthday falls on the same day as International Women’s Day, to join the Force. Here is her story.

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What made you join the Force?

My older sister played a significant role in inspiring me to join the Force. When we were younger, I would tag along when she attended the Home Team events and career fairs. My sister joined the Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority years later and frequently work alongside the police. She would often share with me about her encounters at work. These exchanges motivated me to join the Force as I wanted to experience it myself.

What were some of the stereotypes about female officers in the Force that you have heard? 

I believe that people have misconceptions of how female officers are delicate flowers in the Force. On the contrary, I have seen many female officers who are firm, “garang” and are respected by many as leaders. Being “delicate” could probably also mean that we have the advantage to take a softer approach when handling cases. For instance, it is easier for female officers to engage victims of crime as they tend to be more comfortable to open up to us.

What is your proudest moment in the Force? 

I had an encounter with a reoffender who has been committing the same offence since 2015. After interviewing him, I realised that all he needed was for someone to listen to him; his grievances against others and feelings of resentment that he was treated unfairly. Hence, I would always meet him when he reports for bail and hear him out. He was not remorseful. However, on our last meet up, the accused told me that he was apologetic for his actions and is willing to accept the consequences. I was heartened by what he said and felt that my efforts and patience paid off.

In your own words, what makes a policewoman?

Even though female officers are at a disadvantage in terms of their physical limitations, I do not think that policing is solely dependent on that. Ultimately, if one is committed to the job, it does not really matter what your weaknesses are because you will find a way to overcome it with the right attitude.

 


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