'The best of both worlds': Volunteer officers celebrate 75 years of assisting the police

SINGAPORE – During the work week, she is a user experience designer; but on weekend nights, she dons her uniform to patrol the streets as a volunteer officer for the police.

Much like full-time policemen, Sergeant Lim Mei Qing, 36, attends to 999 calls for fights, drug abuse and gambling. She has made arrests on multiple occasions since she joined in 2018.

The job often tests her nerve to stand up to those who flout the law. In one incident, she had to arrest a dangerous man who wielded a weapon.

“I thought, he is taller than me, how can I react; but in the moment, I was just trying to arrest him,” Sergeant Lim told The Straits Times.

“After you don the uniform, you feel you must do something to help and not stand there.”

She is among some 1,200 officers from the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC), which marked its 75th anniversary on Oct 1.

An observance ceremony was held virtually on Saturday (Oct 23) to celebrate the occasion and recognise the contributions of active and retired volunteer officers to the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

A time capsule was launched during the event and each volunteer unit was invited to contribute items of significance before the capsule gets sealed next year. The capsule will be unveiled at the VSC’s 100th anniversary.

The VSC was formed after World War II, when around 100 men joined to strengthen Singapore’s law enforcement in addition to the police force. Manpower was badly needed at the time to bring law and order to the country.

Since 1999, the officers have been fully integrated into the SPF, donning the same uniform as regular policemen and also given an allowance.

These officers can be posted to one of the seven police land divisions or an SPF unit, such as the traffic police and criminal investigation department. They may perform duties such as operations at events, patrols and checks at roadblocks.

The service is open to Singaporeans or permanent residents who are 18 to 45 years old and hold a minimum of five GCE O-level credits or Nitec.

An observance ceremony was held virtually on Oct 23 to recognise the contributions of active and retired volunteer officers to the Singapore Police Force. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

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The volunteer service allows officers like Sergeant Nazirul Mubin Yusoff, 32, to pursue his dreams of becoming a policeman while also working as a secondary school teacher.

He became a VSC traffic police officer in June after six months of training, during which he learned about the law, handling weapons, and the daily job scope of a policeman.

His shifts are usually on weekends after working hours. He patrols the streets in a police vehicle, along with a regular policeman.

Volunteers are given a similar jurisdiction and rights as a regular policeman, but rarely handle investigations.

Sgt Nazirul’s police duties require him to work 16 hours a month, adding on to his workload as a history and nutrition and food sciences teacher.

But he said he does not see his police work as a chore but a means to pursue his childhood dream.

“Now I get to see the best of both worlds: teaching and being a policeman,” he said.

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