Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Sergius Wat believes that law enforcement should be carried out with compassion, in order to protect the vulnerable.
Make no mistake – policing is about people, says Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police (DAC) Sergius Wat.
After all, it was the men and women in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) who first inspired him to choose the profession.
After receiving the SPF Book Prize Award in junior college, he was invited to visit different Police units, where he was struck not only by the varied and meaningful work done by the officers, but also by their strong camaraderie and sense of purpose.
“I was impressed by how the officers worked closely together to support the SPF’s mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure,” he recalls, the memories still fresh after all these years.
The men and women in blue continue to inspire him, 12 years after he became an officer himself.
Throughout his various postings, DAC Wat takes pride in fighting crime alongside his fellow officers. “We all want to solve the case and ensure that justice is done,” he says. “That brings everyone together in pursuit of a common goal.”
Partnering the community to fight crime
DAC Wat is also encouraged by how the community works together with the Police to keep Singapore safe.
He greatly appreciates the strong public support for the SPF’s work. He cited the Vehicles-On-Watch initiative that was launched during his time as the Commanding Officer of Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) as one example of this – in the event of a crime, residents will share footage from their in-vehicle cameras with the Police, to assist in investigations.
“We started this programme as a local community partnership to deter and solve thefts, and it was gratifying to see many members of the public step forward and contribute their time and resources,” he says.
The Vehicles-On-Watch initiative has since been rolled out island-wide.
Protecting the vulnerable
Policing is also about people, as officers need to have empathy for every individual they meet, whether victim or offender, adds DAC Wat.
He explains: “An important aspect of police work is understanding the reasons that led a person to run afoul of the law in the first place. We need to address the underlying social needs, even as we enforce the law.”
While officers are called upon to be firm and fair in what they do, they need to temper justice with compassion, he adds, and not just discharge their duties dispassionately.
When he was an Investigation Officer, he was especially moved by the plight of those who attempted suicide, and the unfortunate circumstances that led to the person deciding to take his or her life.
This made DAC Wat realise that for someone in these circumstances, the focus should be on ensuring that they can obtain the necessary help and support, instead of subjecting them to the criminal investigation process.
During his posting to the Policy Development Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2016, it was particularly meaningful for him to work on a review of Singapore’s Penal Code and other legislation, to enhance protection for the vulnerable.
One of the key legislative changes arising from the review was the decriminalisation of attempted suicide. These changes came into effect on Jan 1, 2020.
“My policing experience on the frontline helped inform the policies that I worked on, and gave me the confidence that policy and legislative changes can result in positive change,” says DAC Wat.
Safeguarding Singapore for tomorrow
“What we have in Singapore is special – feeling safe when we go out at night; not needing to worry about our children taking public transport on their own,” says the father of a two-year-old son.
“This is the result of the efforts of many generations of men and women in blue, serving Singaporeans with heart and dedication through the years, and building up and safeguarding the public’s trust in the Police.”
He explains: “I want to keep this home where we live, work and play safe for the next generation.”
|A meaningful career
A recipient of the President’s Scholarship and SPF Scholarship, DAC Wat graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and a Master of Arts in Regional Studies (East Asia).
In 2011, he entered service as an Investigation Officer with Tanglin Division, and later served as an Operations Officer in the Criminal Investigation Department. He was appointed the Commanding Officer of Pasir Ris NPC in 2014.
Between 2016 and 2018, DAC Wat served as Assistant Director in the Policy Development Division of MHA, and took on the role of Assistant Director in the SPF’s Operations Department in 2019. He assumed his current post as Deputy Commander of Jurong Police Division in 2020.
Throughout his 12-year career, he has had many opportunities to develop leadership skills through different postings.
His career highlights include:
– Representing Singapore at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, during which he delivered a statement explaining Singapore’s position on issues pertaining to crime and drugs
– Serving in security deployments during key national events such as National Day celebrations, General Elections and the South-east Asian Games in 2015
– Contributing to a review of the Penal Code and other legislation in order to enhance protection for the vulnerable; these changes came into effect in January 2020
– Planning and coordinating Police operations to ensure law and order during the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to support our national response to the virus