On Assignment
On Patrol with Our TransCom Officers
What it takes to keep our public transport network safe for all – on patrol with our TransCom officers.

In 2018, an average of 7.54 million trips were made daily on Singapore’s MRT trains and buses. Officers of the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) were right there with us to ensure that we have a safe and secure journey home. 

I met with TransCom officers who shared about the cases they’ve encountered on the job.

home team news spf transcom feature-3
Ready to serve (from left): TransCom officers Special Constable Navin, CPL Mohamad Fazlie, SGT Louis Lim and CPL Wong Yong Haw. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Proactive Crimefighters
TransCom officers conduct high-visibility patrols at bus interchanges and MRT stations. Having been trained to spot suspicious people and behaviour, they also do spot-checks when necessary.

Such checks have been instrumental in catching criminals. In fact, TransCom holds the record for the highest number of proactive arrests across the Singapore Police Force (SPF); in 2018, TransCom officers made 723 arrests, with most offenders guilty of offences such as possession of dangerous weapons and drugs, as well as having a warrant of arrest issued against them.

v2 home team news transcom feature-2
Always mobile: As TransCom officers conduct regular patrols of our public transport nodes, they get to interact with people from all walks of life. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

TransCom Group Leader Sergeant (SGT) Louis Lim shared that the officers are trained to conduct spot-checks so as not to attract unnecessary attention. When a commuter cooperates, the process can be completed in under two minutes. 

But some commuters may respond by asking, “Why are you checking me?”, or with verbal abuse.

SGT Lim explains that in such situations, professionalism is key. “We do checks to ensure that our public transport network is safe,” he said. “If we spot any suspicious activities or persons, we'll conduct checks as part of our duty to deter, detect and prevent crime."

Catching a Drug Abuser 
Of the 723 arrests made by TransCom officers in 2018, the majority was for drug-related offences. During a recent patrol at Aljunied MRT Station, SGT Lim and his team observed a man carrying a bag who was walking unsteadily. Upon closer inspection, they noted that the suspect had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech – tell-tale signs of someone under the influence of drugs.

home team news spf transcom feature-2
Vigilance and professionalism: TransCom officers on duty. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

“When we approached the suspect, he got very aggressive,” recalled SGT Lim. 

An initial check of the suspect revealed that he'd previously committed a string of offences. The officers then proceeded to check his belongings. “In his bag, we found a packet that’s used for storing tobacco,” said SGT Lim. “But when we touched the substance inside the packet, it was sticky and had a sweet smell.”

The officers swiftly seized the packet and arrested the suspect. He was later charged for the possession and consumption of controlled drugs.

home team news spf transcom feature
There for us: The presence of TransCom officers on public transport is a vital deterrence to crime and other security threats. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Vigilance and Patience
While TransCom officers detect and catch many such criminals while on patrol, there are also cases where deliberate planning and execution are required. This was the approach that Corporal (CPL) Mohammad Fazlie and his team took when they were tasked to apprehend a suspect who’d molested several victims on the MRT. 

Investigative work gave the officers a vital clue – the suspect was going to be at Lakeside MRT Station during a certain time period.  Patrolling the station, CPL Fazlie and his team scanned the crowd for the suspect. 

It was three long hours before he emerged, but they were ready. “We saw the suspect enter the station and tailgate a friend who was with him to get past the gantry,” recounted CPL Fazlie. “We remained calm and followed him up to the MRT platform before making our approach and arresting him.”

home team news spf transcom feature-6
Necessary duty: CPL Fazlie (right) and CPL Wong speak to a commuter during a patrol. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Hello Police
TransCom officers are trained to deal with a range of cases in the line of duty. But it’s not only about deterring and detecting crime; they also offer help to those who require it such as senior citizens and commuters with special needs.

v2 home team news transcom feature-3
TransCom officers often find themselves assisting commuters in need. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

And while managing the occasional irate commuter is part of their job, there have also been moments that warmed the heart. “I’ve met children who come up to us to say ‘hi’ and give us a high five,” said SGT Lim. “Once, a little kid even clung to my leg and had to be ‘pried off’ by his mother! That’s one of the good things about what we do.”

CPL Fazlie had a similar story to share. “One time, a kid came up to me and said, ‘Hello Police, thank you for protecting Singapore,’” he recalled. “It was sweet, and it’s these kinds of encounters that really motivate us.”

home team news spf transcom feature-4
Sharing more about the Riders-On-Watch Programme with commuters. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Partners in Public Transport: The Riders-On-Watch Programme
Help our TransCom officers keep Singapore’s public transport network safe and secure by joining the Riders-On-Watch Programme. Besides looking out for suspicious behaviour and Persons of Interest, volunteers will also receive real-time alerts on happenings that affect the public transport network. For more information, use the Ask Jamie virtual assistant on the SPF website. Check out this video also about the Riders-On-Watch Programme!

Home Team Real Deal: Learn how TransCom officers decide who to approach for spot-checks.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 11 July 2019
Back to top