Ms Esther Koh took a gap year after completing junior college to figure out what she wanted to do, although she was certain that she wanted to join the civil service.
She recalls: “I wanted to be able to perform a job that would allow me to interact with the community, give back to people and hopefully make life better for them. But I didn’t want to do it from behind a desk.
“When I looked at all the options available during the gap year, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) was a natural choice.”
In 2013, she was awarded the Singapore Government Scholarship (Police).
Spurred by her interest in understanding human interaction and behaviour, she pursued a degree in psychology at University College London and graduated in 2016.
She believed that it would complement her service in the SPF by helping her gain a better understanding of the people around her.
The scholarship was fundamental in preparing her for her eventual roles in the SPF as she had the opportunity to be attached to different departments during her summer vacations and gain exposure to the different aspects of Police work.
Having each other’s backs
Now 25, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Koh is an Investigation Officer (IO) with the SPF.
Since joining the Force in 2016, she has undergone nine months of training in the Home Team Academy.
She became a Ground Response Force (GRF) officer at Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) for six months before assuming the role of an IO at Tanglin Division.
ASP Koh quickly realised that ensuringSingapore’s safety and security is a team effort.
After an incident is reported and investigation is required, the work of an IO could involve visiting neighbours, examining the areas around the incident location for better spatial understanding, viewing closed-circuit television cameras and processing forensics with the help of crime scene specialists.
“Both GRF officers and IOs work in shifts,” she says. “When a 999 call is received, the GRF officers will attend to the incident first and conduct the initial ground inquiries. If there is a need for further investigations, IOs take over from there.”
Knowing that her individual efforts play a role in keeping Singapore safe fills her with pride. However, the sense of camaraderie and team spirit among officers is also a big part of her job in the SPF.
She recounts an occasion when a subject had been arrested for theft at 6pm on a Friday evening, just as her teammates were getting ready to leave for the day. As an IO, she would have to recover the stolen property.
“Without having to ask twice, my teammatesjust asked what time and where, and if I needed someone to drive. They only left the station at about 10.30pm that night.”
ASP Koh holds this incident close to her heart.
“It has taught me to pay it forward in whatever manner, whenever possible,” she says.
No two days are ever alike for her, but she has never had second thoughts about her choice.
She says: “Deciding what to do after university can be intimidating, but the SPF scholarship provided me with so much support to prepare me for the job that I have never looked back and asked ‘what if’.”