We follow Tiffany Danker, a Psychologist with the Singapore Police Force
(SPF), during a typical day on the job. Come along as she reveals little-known aspects of her role!
9AM: First meeting of the day
Tiffany arrives early at Police Headquarters to prepare for the first of the day’s meetings. As a member of SPF’s Police Psychological Services Department (PPSD), she finds her work to be very dynamic, with no two days the same. Given the fast-changing nature of their work, such meetings allow Tiffany and her fellow Psychologists to keep one another updated on their work.
All PPSD team members hold a degree in Psychology while senior Psychologists on the team have Masters degrees in specialisations such as Forensic Psychology; Clinical Psychology; and Industrial and Organisational Psychology. The meeting proceeds briskly as the team members give updates on their work.
9.30AM: Offering a listening ear
As part of her work, Tiffany counsels Police officers to help them process their mental state and emotions more effectively. In 2020, she supported officers who'd tested positive for COVID-19, in partnership with SPF Paracounsellors. This included conducting check-in calls and texts to see how they were faring in their recovery.
“Being a Psychologist means that we constantly need to be curious and on the lookout for ways to improve things,” shared Tiffany. For example, when COVID-19 broke out, a team of PPSD Psychologists was tasked to conduct regular morale sensing surveys to see how they could better support Police officers involved in COVID-19 operations.
“We wanted to know which measures were helpful to them and what were some of the gaps that we could plug,” she said. “Beyond the surveys, we also studied the subject in detail, to expose ourselves to the various kinds of help available, so that we can make the most suitable recommendations.”
10.45AM: Conducting interviews with aspiring officers
Tiffany also conducts virtual interviews with those applying for the Direct-Entry Inspector’s role. This is just one step in the application process.
When Tiffany joined SPF two years ago, she didn’t know that she’d be assisting with the interview process. It’s a role that she enjoys, and her takeaway is this: be open-minded about what the job may bring.
“As a Police Psychologist, we’re exposed to many areas of work that we might not have delved in previously,” she said. “Be a sponge and soak everything up!”
12.30PM: Quick lunch with colleagues
As work is always on-the-go, it helps that Tiffany has great colleagues at PPSD to have lunch with! They share a passion for their work, find great meaning in it and constantly support one another.
1.15PM: Conducting training for Victim Care Officers
At PPSD, Tiffany is responsible for the Victim Psychology portfolio, which includes managing the Victim Care Cadre Programme
. This Programme is supported by community volunteers known as Victim Care Officers (VCOs) who help to provide emotional and practical support to victims of crime during investigations and throughout the criminal justice process.
After lunch, Tiffany conducts a training session for the latest cohort of VCOs. The programme covers skills such as active listening, psychological first aid and various forms of intervention.
Follow-up role-playing sessions help the VCOs to better understand how they can support victims of crime. The exchanges are lively, with Tiffany taking questions from their VCOs and sharing her experiences.
According to Tiffany, empathy and a willingness to help others are the most important traits that VCOs need to have. Resilience is vital as well, as VCOs may also be activated to provide support to the families of victims of crime, especially in serious cases.
4.30PM: Taking a moment to recharge
Time for a quick cuppa! Self-care is important as being in the right mental state allows Psychologists to continue rendering aid to others.
Reflecting on the role-playing session with VCOs, Tiffany acknowledged that being a Police Psychologist can be challenging as they are often exposed to potentially distressing incidents in the course of their work. “Hence, SPF Psychologists need to possess a certain level of grit and resilience to ensure that we don’t feel overwhelmed,” she said.
For Tiffany, who joined SPF after graduating from the National University of Singapore
in 2019, it’s all about staying in touch with what’s important. “Before we enter the workforce, it’s very important that we know what keeps us grounded,” shared Tiffany. “For me, that’s surrounding myself with colleagues who offer a listening ear and are a comforting presence.”
5PM: Attending to a victim of crime
It’s not uncommon for Police Psychologists to be on stand-by, in order to respond to emergency calls. Receiving a call from an Investigation Officer at a Police Station, Tiffany quickly makes her way there to attend to a victim of crime who needs support.
At the Police Station, Tiffany meets with a VCO who has also been activated before quickly reviewing the facts of the case and then talking to the victim. “After making a Police report, some victims of crime may experience a range of emotions, such as anxiety or distress,” explained Tiffany. “It’s fundamental that we listen to them with empathy, recognise what they are feeling and connect with them, so that we can better offer support.”
6.30PM: Wrapping it up
Returning to her office, Tiffany wraps up her day by replying to her emails and following up on a number of work matters for the rest of the week.
It’s been a long day, but what keeps Tiffany motivated is being able to make a difference in the lives of others: “Supporting victims of crime and fellow officers who require help, and seeing them come away from our sessions looking like a weight has been lifted from their shoulders – that’s something I’ll never tire of!”
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