A day in the life of a police officer is often dramatised onscreen – chasing perpetrators down dark alleys, going undercover with drug lords and interrogating suspects for hours in rooms with two-way mirrors.
But all that drama is not far from the truth. In his six months as a Neighbourhood Police Centre Officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Azfer Ali Khan has responded to emergencies ranging from simple disputes, to armed fights and heart-pounding chases.
“My duty is to assess a situation and keep everyone safe,” he says, “but it’s not easy because every case I encounter is unique. There’s always more to learn.”
For the good of the people
In his line of duty, cases that involve life-threatening situations are not uncommon. In a recent suicide attempt case, ASP Azfer and his colleagues were careful to be sensitive with their words and movement while thinking swiftly on their feet to convince the distressed person not to jump. The team eventually managed to bring the distressed person to safety.
“I feel privileged to work with such excellent teammates from whom I can learn about managing stressful situations,” says the 24-year-old.
ASP Azfer shares that many of his cases involve vulnerable people, for instance children, the elderly and the mentally handicapped.
“Interacting with people from all walks of life has been a humbling experience. I wake up every morning, and I look forward to going to work because I know that at the end of the day, I get to help people,” he says. “When we respond to cases involving the vulnerable, I am in a position to make a direct and tangible impact on their lives. I can give advice, lend a listening ear and refer them to the relevant authority – I can make a difference.”
For a better understanding
ASP Azfer has always been drawn to opportunities, where he can develop a better understanding of the world around him. This desire drew him to apply for the Singapore Police Force Scholarship (SPFS) for a career with SPF, where dealing with people is at the heart of the job.
With the SPFS, ASP Azfer pursued a Bachelor of Arts (Law) at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and a Master of Laws at Harvard Law School in the United States. This equipped him with critical thinking skills and gave him a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system – two things that are crucial in his new role as an Investigation Officer.
“I believe that the two key attributes to being a good police officer are having empathy and being genuinely keen to understand others. That’s why the SPF offers scholarships to students for almost all disciplines. Policing has less to do with what one studies, and a lot more to do with who one wants to be,” he says.
What ASP Azfer treasures about working in the SPF is the flexibility to move across departments and pick up a wide spectrum of skills.
“I am humbled by the fact that most officers I know have the intention of staying till retirement, which speaks volumes about their job satisfaction,” he says.