31 January 2017

The Transformation Journey

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The phone rings, he takes the call, giving me a twinkling to compose my thoughts. As I sat across, waiting patiently for the moment to break the ice, I noticed signs of weariness that have been obscured by his fervour for Police work.  Currently serving his stint as Director of the Manpower Department, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SAC), Teo Chun Ching traces his life-long affinity with the Police blue to his college days as Cadet Inspector of the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) which eventually inspired him to take up the Singapore Police Force (SPF) Scholarship.


His Home Team Journey Thus Far

Of his 24 years serving the Force, SAC Teo fondly recounts his operational postings to be some of the highlights in his career. Starting with his posting in Tanglin Division as the Head of Operations during the September 11 attacks in 2001, he recalls the intricacies of executing action plans, and handling sensitive cases pertaining to persons of interest. In addition, he also oversaw the rolling-out of the Neighbourhood Police Centres in Tanglin.


SAC Teo also describes his assignments as Commander of the Airport Police Division and Commander of the Bedok Division to be “similarly notable experiences”. “As a Commander, you are responsible for the entire division, in terms of the security outcomes, and the well-being of your officers. This gives a sense of satisfaction as you have very specific results that you are trying to achieve, and you get to work with a large group of very motivated officers as well,” SAC Teo enthused.


Road to Transformation

Among the key changes made over the years to the SPF, the Police Transformation Programme (PTP) is considerably one of the most significant in recent history. SAC Teo was tasked to lead the project together with the Director of Public Affairs Department, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Wilson Lim.


The need to improve both the officers’ morale and the public’s perception of the SPF are the key drivers behind the PTP. While it may be challenging to implement the programme, SAC Teo is determined to convince his officers and members of the public on the benefits of the PTP. The programme is guided by five pillars: Real Work that Matters; Purpose Driven; Community Leader; Equipped to Succeed; and Valuing Contribution. These pillars form the basis of SPF’s current policing and communication outreach in light of the changing demographics and operating environment in Singapore.


As part of the programme, officers are given additional opportunities to improve and develop their skills, training them to be more efficient, resourceful and adaptable in their undertakings. On the other hand, members of the public will benefit from the implementation of the Community Policing System (COPS) as they can now enjoy stronger Police presence and wide CCTV coverage of their neighbourhoods. “Not only does PTP change the look and feel of the Police Force but it also makes the Force look more professional than before to the public,” commented SAC Teo.


The PTP has been well-received by both the officers and the public at large. SAC Teo attributes this to the dedicated internal and external publicity efforts and the successful SPF recruitment publicity campaigns, which have taken on PTP’s new visual identity and key messages. The success was further augmented by the positive responses at the recently concluded Police Community Roadshows which was held over five weekends between November to December 2016 in various heartland locations.



Adapting to Modern Challenges

With the stabilisation of the PTP, SAC Teo shared that the Force is looking forward to the next phase of the transformation which would align the SPF to the Home Team Transformation 2025. This shift would unify all Home Team agencies in the modern digital age by leveraging technological innovations to enhance daily operations. “It is an exciting period because how our officers carry out investigations, patrols, and respond to incidents will change significantly through the new technological capabilities, which will enhance the effectiveness of officers.”


Besides enhancing daily operations, SAC Teo believes that the utilisation of modern technology to resolve issues of additional workload will address the present manpower crunch challenge. “There are many ways to overcome this problem. Technology holds a lot of opportunities and I think we should continue researching and exploring new technologies so that officers can be more efficient.”


From assisting career transitions for retiring officers to aiding the Home Team Transformation 2025, SAC Teo further unravels the process of strategic planning in his department.


“We need to ensure that our workforce can adapt to changes. For retiring officers, we have already set up a career transition office and we will roll out a series of initiatives to support retiring officers in finding desirable meaningful second careers after they leave the SPF. As for our current officers, we want to equip them with the necessary skills that will help them in the transformation journey, if they need new skills, we must ensure that they receive the necessary trainings,” SAC Teo explained.


Satisfaction from Work

Shedding more light on his personal life, SAC Teo shared that maintaining a work-life balance is essential to him. He reiterates that it is deliberate prioritisation and adjustment of schedules to accommodate both work and family that makes the difference.


“Scheduling and planning ahead is important, even on a daily basis. When your family needs you, you are there for them, and when your work requires you, you are there to deliver what the organisation expects of you,” he emphasised. 


As the interview came to a close, SAC Teo advised fellow officers that “it is important to understand why we join the Police Force in the first place, to actively look for satisfaction in whatever job you are doing and to realise how your work contributes to Singapore being one of the safest places in the world.”

Last Updated on 24 February 2017