DSP Esther Koh Qing En manages the daily operations at Punggol NPC in her role as CO. She is a recipient of the Singapore Government Scholarship (Police), and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University College London.
There are not many professions that give you an opportunity to make a real difference. If you are continually seeking new challenges and desire an environment that prioritises teamwork and civic-mindedness, there is a narrow pathway of choices, of which one stands out.
Policing is an incredibly nuanced job – one that demands an assertive hand in the face of lawlessness; and to be sensitive and empathetic when required. This requires an organisation that holds itself to the highest standards. This is how the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has helped to make Singapore one of the safest cities in the world, and you can only achieve this with the right people – along with the right values.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Esther Koh Qing En is the Commanding Officer (CO) of Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC). She found that the SPF’s mission resonated with her very much, which led her to take up the Singapore Government Scholarship (Police).
How did you become interested in a career with the SPF?
After Junior College, I took a ‘gap year’ to try and figure out what I wanted to do. It was a very daunting prospect at the time because all I knew was that I wanted a career in the Civil Service. I wanted a job that would allow me to interact with people and contribute to making life better for the community. But I was also very clear that I did not want to do this from behind a desk. So when I looked at all the options available to me, MHA and SPF were the natural choices.
How did you discover the Singapore Government Scholarship (Police), and why did you choose it over others?
I found scholarship opportunities through the BrightSparks portal and submitted my applications through it. What made me choose this scholarship over others was the prospect of a job that would allow me to serve the community, be it members of the public or my fellow officers within the Force.
How did the SPF support and enhance your academic experience while you were studying?
During my summer breaks, I was given internship opportunities with the SPF, which helped me understand the nature of my future profession and prepared me for the roles that lay ahead of me. It also allowed me a chance to forge bonds with my fellow officers and future colleagues, easing my transition from school to the SPF.
Can you tell us more about your role and responsibilities?
I am currently the CO of Punggol NPC. In my role, I manage and oversee the daily operations of the NPC. My tasks include optimising Police resources and implementing good practices to ensure that the NPC and its officers can perform their roles effectively. Part of my work also involves officer development, providing opportunities for my officers to upskill themselves and be future-ready. As CO, I also work with relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety and security of Punggol residents.
What is your most significant career achievement to date?
Before this posting, I was a Planning Officer in the Ops-Tech Department, where my role was to look at Tech Policy in the context of the SPF. During my time there, my colleagues and I worked with HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency) to craft the Joint-Partnership Understanding between the SPF and HTX. This document outlines the working level agreement between both agencies to ensure synergy and an effective working relationship.
What’s the most memorable case that you’ve handled? Why so?
When I was an Investigation Officer, I handled one particular case of theft, where the subject had been arrested on a Friday evening. I had to recover the stolen property as soon as possible.
Despite it being a Friday evening, my teammates simply asked if I needed help, then pitched in to assist me. They ended up leaving the station at about 10.30 pm that night. I later found out that they had rearranged their dinner plans to help me.
Though it was a routine case, the camaraderie that I experienced that day is something I hold very dear to my heart, and which I try to pay forward, whenever possible.
Is this indicative of the SPF’s work culture?
SPF has a very strong culture of teamwork and camaraderie. Due to the nature of our work, it is hard to work in silos. However, the fact that my colleagues always display a willingness to help throughout my various postings is a testament to the team spirit within the organisation.
What do you hope to achieve in your career?
I hope to be able to build up our officers and provide opportunities for them to develop skills beyond policing and their immediate roles. I believe that our officers are individuals who can contribute a great deal to the organisation and society, and I hope to empower them to fulfil their potential.
What would you say to convince someone to join the SPF?
If you are looking for a challenging and fulfilling job where no two days are alike, with unique experiences that you won’t find elsewhere, then consider joining the SPF. Deciding what to do after university is never easy, but the scholarship has provided me with so much support in preparing for working life that I have never looked back and asked, “What if?” I feel a great sense of purpose working in an organisation that contributes so much to Singapore’s safety and security.