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Industry Spotlight: 24/7 with Our Security Officers

Recognising the contributions of security officers on the frontline and providing them with enhanced protection through the Private Security Industry (Amendment) Bill.
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GRAPHIC: Home Team News

Security officers are our first line of defence within the community. They are important partners of the Home Team, helping to protect and secure the premises where they are deployed.

This year, four officers received the Security Officer of the Year Award on Security Officers’ Day. An initiative by the Security Association Singapore to honour security officers, it is celebrated on 24 July (24/7) every year. We speak to two award winners about their unwavering sense of duty and how they feel about the Private Security Industry (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in Parliament on 5 October 2021.

Senior Security Officer Thinagaran Krishnan from Tiger Hong Security Services may have only joined the industry in May 2019, but he has already climbed the ranks to become a Supervisor. His quick thinking has helped to ensure the safety of the tenants and residents of Burlington Square on numerous occasions, most notably when he helped the Police to nab two drug abusers.

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

Tell us about your job scope and duties.
I’m responsible for the night shift security at Burlington Square, and there are a number of security officers under my supervision. We ensure the safety of the premises using CCTV and by patrolling. Our duties also cover various functions at the car park and assisting residents with issues they may face.

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

Being relatively new to the security industry, how did you adjust so well to your new role?
I attended training courses that helped me a lot in terms of identifying threats, handling aggressive individuals and knowing our SOPs. Before I joined the security industry, I didn’t know how technology could be applied to our role. But now I can see how technology has uplifted our work: CCTVs and body-worn cameras enable real-time monitoring of security incidents, and clocking-in electronically during patrols allows for efficient tracking and reporting of incidents through our 24/7 Integrated Command Centre.

What are some of the security-related cases you’ve handled?
One case involved two drug abusers, a man and his girlfriend, whom I helped the Police to nab. They’d entered the mall one night, asking to use the toilet. Instead, they lingered at the table outside the toilet and started taking items out from their bags. I instinctively felt something was amiss when I saw the man staring at the CCTV and trying to block its view with his body. He even got his girlfriend to do the same. I reported them to the authorities, and both abusers were arrested for drug-related offences.

Another case involved a kitchen fire. I was at the loading bay of the mall late at night when I heard the whirring of an exhaust fan. This triggered my sense of alarm as all the restaurants were closed by then. I then saw thick, black smoke coming out from an exhaust outlet. I traced the smoke back to a particular restaurant and entered the kitchen through the back door, stumbling upon a scene of confusion.

Several restaurant workers were trying to put out an oil fire on a stove using water, which caused the fire to get out of control. I told the kitchen workers to stop, then I put out the flames using an extinguisher.

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

What challenges do you face as a security officer, and how do you overcome them?
Some people will challenge our authority over simple things like following COVID-19 regulations. To deal with such situations, we need to be firm. I stand my ground – when people know that we follow the law, we earn their respect, and they’ll stop trying to test our limits.

Have you heard about the enhancements to the Private Security Industry Act (PSIA)?
Yes, as a supervisor, I need to keep up with the latest news, so I know about the proposed changes to the law. I receive regular e-memos from my company to inform us about changes to the PSIA. It will really help, and I hope the public will become more aware of why there are new measures to safeguard security officers. This isn’t a one-sided subject as we need the cooperation of the public too.

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PHOTO: Joash Tan

Share with us an incident that made you feel proud of your work as a security officer.
Once, a man was trapped in a lift at the mall. As we helped him out, I saw his facial expression change from anxious to relieved, and I felt good because I’d done something meaningful. When our residents and tenants recognise and greet me, it’s good enough for me. They tell me that since I started working here, this place has become safer. I feel good that I’ve been able to make a difference.  

How do you feel about winning the Security Officer of the Year Award?
Like football, security work isn’t a one-man show, and I’m glad I have a good team. This award is a motivational booster for me. Throughout the COVID-19 period, my company has supported us by ensuring our welfare was taken care of, and I want to do my company proud.

Security Officer (SO) Muhammad Raihan Bin Iswandi could be a poster boy for the Singapore Kindness Movement. Polite to a fault, SO Raihan is a cool cucumber even when tempers flare. Armed with the wisdom from his grandfather, who’s also working at Certis, SO Raihan has excelled despite being in the job for less than two years. His attention to detail has already helped the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to prevent prohibited items from entering our borders on multiple occasions.

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Tell us about your work as a security officer.
I lead a team of forward checkers at the Green Channel at Tuas Checkpoint, assisting ICA to conduct checks on vehicles entering Singapore, to ensure no contraband items are brought in.

What prompted you to become a security officer?
After three years of logistics-related work, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to learn more about the work of security officers, and my grandfather is an Auxiliary Police Officer. He encouraged me to go for it, and advised me that I can excel in whatever I believe in. So here I am!

What were some of the cases that you’ve handled?
Last year, a car with a family of three drove up to the Checkpoint and I felt instinctively something was wrong with the driver, as he kept looking at us and at his family. I politely asked the driver to allow me to do a sweep of the vehicle. I found a pack of cigarettes in the glove box, and then noticed a piece of plastic covering the bottom of the compartment. I asked the driver what was under the plastic, and he replied “nothing.” I then asked permission to search further and found more packets of cigarettes. The driver admitted that the cigarettes belonged to him. At this point, I alerted ICA officers of the discovery. Eventually, it was established that the driver had tried to bring in contraband cigarettes.

I also frequently find flares, which are prohibited in Singapore. We confiscate such items and dispose them.

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PHOTO: Certis

What are some of the challenges you face on the job, and how do you deal with them?
When I first started out, I had to get used to the hot weather and heavy traffic at the Checkpoint while ensuring that I check the vehicles thoroughly. On top of that, I’d encounter impatient drivers who’d vent their anger on us. I’ll tell myself that it was the hot weather that caused tempers to flare, while reminding myself not to engage or respond to hostile behaviour, remain professional, smile and say thank you. I put myself in their shoes to try to understand what they are going through, without losing focus on my role.

I’m thankful that having formerly served as a National Serviceman with the Singapore Police Force (where I learnt to manage Persons in Custody), I could draw on similar experiences that taught me to stay calm in the face of aggressive actions.

Have you heard about the amendments to the PSIA that will enhance protection for security officers against abuse?
Yes, I was informed by my supervisor and heard about it from my family members as well. It’s a good move that will help make it safer for us to carry out our duties. I feel more assured that I’ll receive the necessary support for my work.

How do you and your family feel about winning the Security Officer of the Year Award?
I was surprised when I was first told that I’d be receiving the Award, as I’m relatively new to the industry. The fact that my supervisor put up the recommendation for me is a recognition of my performance. I also owe it to my team members; this Award isn’t just for me, it’s also for them. My grandfather is also happy and proud of me!

Amendments to the Private Security Industry Act
The Private Security Industry (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament on 5 October 2021. The amended Act introduces enhanced protection for security officers, as well as removes persons who only provide security consultancy services from regulation under the PSIA.

With the passing of the Bill, the Act will now provide targeted protection for security officers, to send a clear, deterrent signal against abuse and harassment of security officers. Penalties for common types of harassment and abuse against security officers are now higher than if they were committed against members of the public. 

Read the Second Reading Speech and Wrap-Up Speech for the Private Security Industry (Amendment) Bill by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.

Written by

Lynn Ng


5 October 2021

Security Industry
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