FEATURES

05 March 2019

The Singapore Police Force’s First Certified International Post Blast Investigator

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By Syam Roslan

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Rapid changes in the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) operating environment have given rise to new operational challenges. To address these challenges effectively, the SPF has been constantly reviewing and refining its workforce strategies and resources to ensure the continued safety and security of Singapore. One of the outcomes from the reviews was the setting up of the Career Transition Office (CTO) in 2016. The CTO aims to provide timely and effective career transition support and services to help retiring and retired officers to continue to remain a valued and respected asset to the nation.

Many retiring officers have benefitted through this scheme, and one such officer is Superintendent of Police (Supt) Geraldine Tan, Commanding Officer of the Technical Command from the Police Coast Guard (PCG). With the help of the CTO, Supt Tan was able to pursue the Certified International Post Blast Investigator (CIPBI) Programme in Toronto, Canada and became the first ever CIPBI from the SPF! Police Life caught up with Supt Tan to find out what motivated her to pursue this journey.

With over 29 years of service in the Force, Supt Tan is a 50-year-old veteran policewoman who has served in various units, including in the Public Affairs Department, Training Command and Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Prior to her current stint in PCG, she was the Assistant Director (AD) of the Bomb and Explosive Investigation Division (BEID) in CID. It was during this stint that sparked her interest to pursue this field of expertise as Supt Tan firmly believed that such skillsets will help her to remain relevant in this current high security tension climate, and even beyond retirement.  

As a member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians & Investigators (IABTI), an established non-profit association known to the bomb technicians and post-blast investigators worldwide, Supt Tan learned about the CIPBI course through their website and interactions with fellow IATBI members. Armed with strong determination and family support, Supt Tan then approached the CTO on the possibility of pursuing the course, where she needed to attend a five-day in-service programme and sit for a certification examination in Toronto, Canada. With the support of the CTO, Supt Tan obtained full sponsorship on the training fees and even time off to attend the training.

“CTO has been very supportive from the start. Without the CTO, I would have to pay the training fees out of my pocket and consume my leave to attend the training.” said Supt Tan.

While she was in Canada for the training, Supt Tan recounted two challenges. “I had to show proof to the Examination Board that I have the required practical knowledge. Fortunately, my experience and learning in BEID for over four years, including numerous post-blast investigation exercises conducted both locally and overseas, prepared me well for the big day,” shared Supt Tan.

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Other than the skills-related challenges, Supt Tan had to also overcome the emotional challenge of being away from her family. “Though it was not a long period, I do miss my family very much. However, such sacrifices were inevitable as this was something that I was determined to achieve. So I chose to focus on the positive side of things, such as the opportunity to meet new people and learn new stuff from the practitioners. I also got the chance to tour Toronto, which I have never visited before,” Supt Tan exclaimed.

The years of post-blast training and exercises with BEID and self-studying to build knowledge in explosives and ordinance eventually paid off. Supt Tan is now part of an exclusive group of about 700 CIPBI post-blast investigation experts worldwide. Being the first ever CIPBI from the SPF, Supt Tan could not contain her pride and joy. “I am happy that I made it. This certification is an assurance that our post-blast investigation training is on the right track to international recognition,” Supt Tan mentioned.

With this certification, Supt Tan hopes that she can continue to contribute to the SPF’s post-blast investigation work and impart the skillset to like-minded officers who are interested to pursue this field of expertise and certification. “Now that I am a CIPBI, I know that my work is recognised by like-minded individuals internationally and it certainly helped to boost my confidence, an important trait to have in this field,” Supt Tan said. When asked what are the essential traits of a CIPBI, Supt Tan highlighted that a good post-blast investigator must be observant, meticulous, systematic and open-minded.

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As the interview came to a close, Supt Tan mentioned that she would continue to deepen her expertise by picking up more practitioner skills outside of the post-blast investigation scene to stay relevant and employable beyond the Force. When asked for any advice or learning lessons she wishes to impart to fellow officers, she said, “When I was in Toronto, a senior IABTI official gave me a medallion that says ‘Long May Your Big Jib Draw', a famous nautical slang for ‘May your next journey be swift and easy’. Through this saying, I learnt that it is important to never stop learning, no matter how old you are. As long as you continue to develop your skills, you will be in a strong position to prepare yourself for whatever life puts you through.”


Last Updated on 05 March 2019