As an Assessment & Investigation officer at the airport, Ms Denyce Loo screens travellers entering Singapore and intercepts those with ill intentions. The New Clearance Concept will change the nature of her work, assessing travellers on the move rather than at a counter.
From a young age, Ms Denyce Loo knew she wanted to be of service to society. Her course of choice in polytechnic was gerontology management studies – the study of mental, social and societal implications of ageing, which would have allowed her to enter the social service sector upon graduation.
However, life had other plans for her. At a career fair, she found herself drawn towards the ICA booth and listened passionately to the ICA officers sharing about their work and life, and the scholarship schemes available to students like her. In that instance, she felt a calling.
Today, Ms Loo is an Assessment & Investigation (A&I) officer at Changi Airport, screening travellers entering and leaving the country. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, high travel volumes kept her busy. Now, during a fluid travel situation, she has had to keep up with ever-changing travel advisories and border health protocols to ensure that not only do the borders remain secure, but are also safe from imported transmissions of the COVID-19 virus and its variants.
“Contrary to popular belief, we do much more than just stamping passports. In fact, we don’t do that anymore! Here at the airport, we have started issuing the electronic Visit Pass (e-Pass), which has replaced the traditional inked stamps on passports. And with the New Clearance Concept (NCC), there will be more new technology to enable us to be more effective at our jobs and provide a better experience for travellers,” she shared.
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ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
Like the proverbial iceberg, the work of the A&I officers that is visible to the public only forms a fraction of their duties. Officers like Ms Loo are vital to the security of Singapore’s borders. They sieve out travellers with dubious intentions by assessing eligibility and granting clearance based on existing immigration protocols and measures.
Routine, albeit important, tasks like checking passports are part of a larger scope of work that involves profiling travellers, conducting investigations and interviewing persons of interest. And with the NCC, Ms Loo will only see the breadth and depth of her role grow.
Being an A&I officer goes beyond enforcement. For many Singaporeans returning home, touching down at Changi Airport always evokes powerful feelings of comfort, and Ms Loo sees herself as both an ambassador and an ICA officer. She is proud to play a role in the experience and, on a larger scale, help to create a safe country that people are happy to return to.
“I’m proud to serve my country, to be at the front line and protect our borders. It’s also heartwarming to know that for many Singaporeans, we are the faces that welcome them home,” she said.
One of the most prominent changes of NCC is the removal of immigration counters. As such, travellers will be able to clear through seamlessly via automated lanes. Although the visibility of ICA officers will be reduced, their roles, skills and expertise will be enhanced.
Pre-COVID, A&I officers like Ms Loo would screen up to 150 travellers a day within their shifts. This number will only increase as Singapore’s borders continue to re-open and the resumption of travel picks up. Instead of just stamping passports, she will be performing higher value tasks – like profiling high-risk travellers and incident response, etc. – on the move, with the help of a mobile tablet.
With this new biometrics technology that leverage iris and facial scans as primary identifiers, A&I officers will be able to process large volumes of passengers more securely and efficiently.
Unbeknownst to travellers, the mobile tablet that Ms Loo holds contains a reservoir of information on every traveller going through the automated lanes.
When the A&I officer receives an alert from the mobile tablet, he or she will manually intervene and carry out the next appropriate course of action on potentially high-risk travellers who are unable to pass through the automated lanes. It is a job that requires attention to detail, critical thinking and quick decision-making, along with adaptability to different scenarios.
DEVELOPING HER CAREER
Since joining the ICA on a Home Team Diploma Sponsorship, Ms Loo has experienced different deployments and postings. Her initial posting at Woodlands Command allowed her to experience both primary screening duties and cargo clearance. Thereafter, Ms Loo was posted to Airport Command, during which she also had a stint with ICA’s Recruitment Branch. Every rotation presents different challenges, and she credits the opportunities for helping her to grow professionally.
For one, the job has developed her confidence and she is no longer intimidated when she has to deal with unruly people who try to undermine her authority.
“Sometimes people get upset when they are asked to undergo further screening, or they think their information is correct when it’s not. In some cases, they may get aggressive and try to intimidate me. I always stay calm and yet remain assertive with my words and actions. I used to be very shy, but now such situations don’t faze me,” she shared.
“I’m proud to serve my country, to be at the front line and protect our borders. It’s also heartwarming to know that for many Singaporeans, we are the faces to welcome them home.”
Having found a fulfilling career and meaningful purpose in public service, Ms Loo is actively pursuing opportunities offered by the ICA. She recently applied for the Home Team Degree Scholarship that will allow her to further her studies. Her course of choice? A Bachelor’s degree in Public Safety and Security.
She shared: “I’ve really enjoyed my years of service, and that is why I decided to further my studies. The ICA offers a plethora of opportunities, which many people might not be aware of. Personally, I believe it’s important to experience it for yourself and make it your own.”