Insights on Law Enforcement

By Rachel Lim

The Discovery+ Series is a series of events, delivered through online digital solutions, which give students the chance to speak directly with working professionals, and learn about careers they aspire to enter. Given the developments in the COVID-19 situation, Advisory is keen to provide support to the many students who are experiencing woes in this time of disruptions, by digitalising professional mentorship.

The Discover+ Panel on Law Enforcement, held on 4 August 2020, was graced by Azfer A. Khan (Moderator), Investigator Officer at the Singapore Police Force Tanglin Division; Dominika Janus, Research Agent at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation; and Dr Portia Gloria Loh, Acting Director of Forensics Centre of Expertise, Home Team Science and Technology Agency. Attendees included students at various levels of education with a desire to know the different career paths in law enforcement and how to best position themselves for such roles.

Law enforcement agencies generally welcome people of all profiles and educational backgrounds. However, there are job positions that are more relevant to particular interests and skill sets. For example, jobs related to forensic science are more relevant to those with a STEM background, while jobs related to policy-making are more relevant to those with a humanities background. One  can also look into job descriptions in career portals as they describe the expectations, disciplines and level of qualifications that agencies are looking for in applicants. Law enforcement agencies will also consider the interests and passions of applicants, be it through their hobbies, CCAs or internships, and what they can bring to the table as well.

Critical thinking skills are of paramount importance in the law enforcement sector. The ability to analyse and evaluate objectively is highly crucial as the nature of the job requires heavy involvement in the lives of people. A simple oversight can lead to disastrous results, thus it is necessary for those working in law enforcement to stay sharp and be alert at all times.

Interpersonal skills such as empathy and communication are also equally important in the law enforcement sector, where interactions with others is common. For frontline law enforcers, being empathetic is the key to getting individuals, be it the victims or the accused, to be willing to talk to them. Similarly, communication is key when conducting project meetings with team members. Additionally, a good grasp on foreign languages can be of great help in opening up new opportunities in cross-cultural work.

For the most part, work in the law enforcement sector has not changed much, aside from having to take additional precautionary measures to minimise the risk of infection. However, with most people staying indoors due to the lockdown measures in place, there has been a shift in the criminal landscape. Most notably, while there has been a slight decrease in physical crime, the number of domestic violence and cyber crimes have gone up. Overall, crime rates have not significantly changed, thus the workload for law enforcement agencies have remained largely the same.

One has to be aware of the additional time that one may have to set aside for urgent matters. Due to the nature of the job, where someone’s life is at stake and every second is precious, someone in this industry can be expected to be called to attend to a criminal case outside of the typical office working hours, especially for cases that are high-profile or time sensitive. However, rest assured that law enforcement agencies do not require one to respond to cases every single minute of the day, while there are times where one would be called to respond to urgent cases.

Law enforcement agencies aim to incorporate advanced technology. such as the use of artificial intelligence in facial recognition, to assist in investigations and enhance law enforcement. However, where there are concerns regarding privacy or data governance, the public will be consulted to ensure the population is agreeable and willing to have such technologies implemented. Additionally, even after successful research and development, robusts tests would still need to be carried out to ensure that the technologies meet the requirements of good accuracy and fidelity on the ground before it is implemented.

On a global scale, the Interpol adheres to a Constitution that enshrines neutrality. This prevents law enforcement agencies from engaging in activities with political or militaristic elements.