SINGAPORE: The work can be backbreaking and the hours neverending, but crime-fighting is a “critical” calling which Inspector Ang Xin Yan would not trade for anything else in the world.
On Friday (Feb 2), the investigation officer was one of 68 individuals to be awarded for outstanding work - his second straight accolade in two years of joining the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
Insp Ang, who turns 28 this year, received the commendation for two operations he led in 2017.
One of these was a case of domestic violence, when a couple’s dinner-time tiff exploded and the accused tried to stab his girlfriend in the eye with a 17cm steak knife. She dodged but was then slashed on the head. She then grabbed the blade and when the accused wrested the knife back, the cut on her hand was deep enough to require emergency surgery.
She escaped, but by the time the police arrived, so had her boyfriend. Insp Ang recounted: “The next morning we went down to the house again. The area is known for people who usually drink - and he had a drinking issue - so we felt he might still be around.
“Sure enough my colleagues and I spotted him and immediately confronted him and brought him back to the house.
“He denied everything, but we searched thoroughly and found the knife inside a dustbin in the kitchen,” said Insp Ang. “There was no blood; he’d washed it. But after enough evidence emerged, he admitted to using it to try and harm his girlfriend.”
In the other case, Insp Ang attempted to help a recurring alcoholic by collaborating with a social worker, but the accused kept up his nightly drunken tirades on his own family and was eventually prosecuted.
“Some days it’s family violence, some days it’s a dispute between two parties,” said Insp Ang. “Whether it’s a heavy offence or not, it depends, but there are cases of violence every day.”
THROUGH GOOD, BAD, UGLY
There have been times when the violence was directed at Insp Ang himself - and not just while arresting suspects.
“Once I was interviewing an accused in lockup, and he got very agitated and became very angry, banging the table, shouting, standing up,” said Insp Ang. “We usually cuff just one hand so the other can be used to sign documents; he used his free hand to start throwing objects.”
Yet this is what the inspector himself said he’d always wanted in the form of “a very challenging job”.
“I knew that being a police officer, every day there would be a lot of things that are unusual and not something I’d be able to experience in a ‘normal’ job,” he explained.
So in 2015 upon graduating from university he joined SPF as an inspector directly, and after completing his training was subsequently posted to Tanglin Division.
What impels him to get up, throw on his uniform and head to work every morning? “Somehow, I just enjoy it,” he shrugged. “No matter what case you do, whether small or big, the breakthrough is very satisfying, as it is when you see the accused convicted in court because of your thorough investigation.
“I always want to be able to solve every case.”
Long working hours are the only downside for him. Said Insp Ang: “Often we may get a lot of cases, and run them for 36 hours without sleep. But we’ve to answer to the public, to our management, on our progress. There are some people who’re not able to tolerate this - it’s very hectic and bad for health.”
The men and women in blue also appear to be an easy, constant target for online censure. “As long as we’re doing our job well, that’s enough,” said Insp Ang. “All that criticism, when it comes, it will come, but we have to take it and just do our best; do our part.”
This is a role he embraces on a daily basis, whether on or off the clock. Insp Ang recalled an instance during his training days when he chanced upon a dispute on the street and intervened - despite not being on shift.
“They were quarrelling at the bus-stop, they weren’t happy with each other over a staring incident,” he said. “So I went to them and asked them not to make things complicated. I told them they were just walking by each other and there was no need to make it such a big thing.
“When you know it might escalate into a fight and people might get injured, you have to try and calm both parties down instead of letting it be.
“We are police after all, and our duty is to prevent crime.”