26 December 2018

In The Line of Duty

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By Siti Khadijah Bte Mohd Ezat (Photos: Public Affairs Department)


From the moment Sergeant (Sgt) Desmond Heng joined the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in April last year, he has pledged to uphold the SPF’s four core values of Courage, Loyalty, Integrity and Fairness when discharging his duties as a police officer. But little did he know that he would one day become the talk of the town for demonstrating such values. When Sgt Heng jumped into the Rochor Canal to rescue and apprehend a man who had allegedly harassed female churchgoers, his act of courage was captured on video and it went viral on social media.



This dramatic episode happened on 29 September 2018 when police officers responded to a call for assistance at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ophir Road. Upon reaching the scene, the officers learnt from witnesses that an intoxicated man had allegedly harassed one of the female churchgoers and turned violent when one of the male churchgoers tried to apprehend him. The man was eventually subdued by the male churchgoer but managed to break free and escaped from the church. However, he ended falling into a 1.5m deep drain outside the church.


“When we first encountered the suspect, the most important thing on our mind was to get him out of the drain without endangering him as he was stumbling and appeared to be unstable,” recalled Sgt Lee Zheng Biao, who was one of the first two officers at the scene.


When the officers entered the drain to apprehend the suspect, the man fled along the drain and entered the Rochor Canal by swimming through a tunnel. As Sgt Lee was worried for the safety of the man, he immediately called for backup. When the backup team of six, including Sgt Heng, Sgt Caleb Kok and Inspector (Insp) Ishak Mohali, arrived and found the man in the canal, they immediately activated the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for further assistance. Meanwhile, the officers kept a close watch on the man as he was seen to be drifting towards the end of the canal. They also tried to engage the man and threw a life buoy to him, but he did not grab hold of it.


Fearing that the man might drown, Insp Ishak immediately made the call to send one of his officers into the canal to rescue the man. Sgt Heng was selected as he was the most confident swimmer. As Sgt Heng entered the canal and swam towards the man, his colleague, Sgt Kok, was also standing by to enter the canal should Sgt Heng encounter difficulties.




This was the first time Sgt Heng swam in his uniform and boots. “Having the uniform on was essential to let the man know that I am a police officer, and the boots were for safety measures since the canal was slippery,” explained Sgt Heng.


Although the undercurrents and the man’s unstable behaviour made it tough for Sgt Heng to rescue the man, he was determined to bring the suspect back to shore safely. “Apart from the undercurrents, there was also language barrier between the both of us. The man was unable to speak English. Hence it was difficult to convey my instructions to him,” said Sgt Heng. Doing so might have been challenging but getting the suspect back to shore was even tougher. With only the help of a ladder and railings, Sgt Heng mainly relied on the support of his team to pull the man out of the water.


The man was conveyed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for further medical attention and subsequently arrested under the Protection from Harassment Act.


In the line of duty, police officers encounter many types of scenarios every day, sometimes even life threatening ones. Regardless of the challenges and dangers involved, our SPF officers will not hesitate to uphold the SPF’s four core values of Courage, Loyalty, Integrity and Fairness whenever they are being called upon!

Last Updated on 26 December 2018