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Excelling in a varied role

No two days on the job are the same, and DSP Wilbur Sim finds this exciting.

Facing multifaceted challenges and interacting with people from all walks of life each day keeps the commanding officer of the Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), Tanglin Division, on his toes.

DSP Sim leads a team of close to 130 officers who work to keep the residents of Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir safe. His job entails formulating strategies to tackle prevailing crime trends in the area and working closely with government agencies, grassroots leaders and voluntary welfare organisations to deal with cross-cutting issues.

Some of his main projects now include a divisional leadership development programme for promising officers and improving the NPC’s work processes and workplace environment. Together with his Community Policing Unit (CPU) officers, he is also enhancing the NPC’s crime prevention outreach via social media, which involves tapping on behavioural insights to shape attitudes towards prevailing crime trends. The 31-year-old largely credits his aptitude to successfully handle such a varied role to his experience as an SPF scholar.

Prepping for the job

On the Singapore Government Scholarship (SGS) (Police), DSP Sim graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering with first class honours from Imperial College London and subsequently pursued a master’s degree in Criminology at the University of Cambridge.

While the two disciplines appear unrelated, he sees them as a complementary fit for his career.

“The rigour of my undergraduate curriculum honed my analytical and critical thinking skills, enabling me to be able to quickly troubleshoot problems and fine tune processes within and across systems, ultimately ensuring efficient product and service delivery,” he says.

Furthermore, his postgraduate degree schooled him in basic criminological theories, which deepened his understanding of various aspects of crime, including the psychological profiling of criminals, the sociology of punishment and the rehabilitation of offenders.

Studying overseas was a novel experience as it was the first time that he was away from his family for an extended period of time. Fortunately, SPF provided opportunities for him to link up with seniors studying overseas who provided advice and guidance on settling in.

As part of the scholarship programme, he was attached to various police units during annual summer vacations, which gave him first-hand experience of police work. He was also able to propose areas of improvement based on policing best practices that he had observed while living in Europe.

He was also on the executive committee of the Imperial College Singapore Society, helping to organise events and activities that brought Singaporeans studying in the university together.

Growth opportunities

In the future, DSP Sim hopes to take on more senior command positions within the SPF.

He also looks forward to opportunities to be seconded to the Ministry of Home Affairs, where he will be exposed to other areas of policy and operational work concerning the entire Home Team and not just within the SPF.

“Working on wide-ranging issues will broaden my perspectives and coupled with my ground experience, hopefully enable me to contribute towards the formulation of policies that will benefit society at large,” he says.

Such wide exposure is critical as SPF officers do not work in silos and must be ever-ready to anticipate change even before it occurs. This is to ensure that they are always a few steps ahead of adversaries.

DSP Sim says: “This scholarship is not just a means to an overseas education; it is a gateway to an enriching lifelong career that allows me to play a role in safeguarding Singapore.

“Ensuring the safety and security of Singaporeans is a noble task which entails many sacrifices; the uniqueness of this scholarship lies in the opportunity to experience different sets of challenges that present themselves every day.”