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Meet this data-skilled policeman, an engineer who also wears a programmer’s hat

Trained in engineering, programming and data analytics, Operations Officer ASP Benjamin Tan is a driver of tech adoption within the Singapore Police Force

In August 2019, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Benjamin Tan picked up Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software technology and developed an automation solution to port over every officer’s profile from an old legacy system to a new digital platform – all within 24 hours. Had the task been carried out manually, it would have required an additional 350 man-hours.

Thanks to ASP Tan’s programming wizardry, a significantly more efficient solution was born within a day from conceptualisation to solution for the massive platform migration process of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), saving resources and reducing human errors.

With RPA, users create software robots that can learn, mimic and execute rules-based business processes. RPA “bots” can interact with any application or system the same way people do – except with greater speed, reliability and accuracy.

While programming and policing may seem like unlikely bedfellows, pushing the frontiers of technology is all in a day’s work for ASP Tan. As an Operations Officer in the Future Operations and Planning Division, he examines a myriad of issues within the SPF’s operations fraternity, ranging from staffing legislative amendments to strategic plans.

Concurrently, he explores and implements innovative ideas to ensure that police operations are ready for the future. This involves leveraging technological tools such as data analytics to manage resources and help fight crime more effectively.

Last year, ASP Tan was part of a secretariat that was set up to tackle challenges confronting the SPF in the new age.

“The trends showed that the investigators’ workload kept increasing while the resources to get the work done remained stagnant, resulting in manpower constraints,” he says.

“To resolve this, we redefined the concept of operations and developed a tiered approach to prioritise cases so we could better channel resources.”

ASP Tan is leading the exploration of using data to inform the concept of operations for policing by studying crime hotspots and day-to-day operations. As models and an alternative concept of operations are being explored, dashboards and visualisation tools are already being used in police operations today.


In his three years with SPF, ASP Tan has also played the role of an Investigation Officer, gathering clues to crack cases and helping victims of crime.

ASP Tan, a Singapore Merit Scholarship (Police) recipient, is part of a cadre of officers who represents the future of the SPF. Boasting hybrid skill sets, the 28-year-old holds a First-Class Honours degree in Chemical Engineering from University College London (UCL) as well as a Master’s in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley.

As an engineer, ASP Tan loves breaking down complex problems and finding workable solutions. His studies also trained him in data analytics, machine learning/artificial intelligence and optimisation.

“Engineering and operations research are actually very similar. Engineering is the study of a particular system, while operations research involves making a system function better – optimized through cutting-edge technology,” he explains.

Such multi-disciplinary skill sets have become all the more crucial to policing in the new technological age. With Covid-19 expediting the adoption of technology, he is excited to see the SPF leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud infrastructure as well as moving towards data-driven policing for better deployment of resources in crime-fighting.

“Being engineering and data-trained, I hope to be a driver of this adoption within the SPF and to scout for more innovative solutions to implement,” says ASP Tan.

“Policing remains very closely intertwined with the needs of society, and I hope to keep my finger on the pulse of society so that we can continue to navigate the changes to come.”


One of the most memorable moments in ASP Tan’s career so far was when he helped to arrest a scammer, who tricked victims into transferring money to him using false advertisements of luxury items. ASP Tan’s team suspected that the scammer had been using the criminal proceeds to fund his drug habit.

The scammer was very evasive and ASP Tan tailed him for a few months.

“When I eventually nabbed him, it was memorable as I managed to serve justice to prevent more innocent people from getting scammed,” ASP Tan says.

JUN 2019 
– Nine-month C-course/ Senior Police Officer training 

JUN 2019 TO DEC 2019 
– Ground Response Force Officer, Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre 

DEC 2019 TO MAR 2021 
– Investigation Officer (General Investigations Squad), Tanglin Police Division 

APR 2021 TO DEC 2021 
– Investigation Officer (Commercial Crime Squad), Tanglin Police Division 

– Operations Officer, Future Operations and Planning Division

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