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Published: 09 Aug 2012 11:00AM (Singapore)
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He believes in People
Both a leader and a friend to his peers, Superintendent (SUPT) (V) Jimmy Toh, a Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (HT Volunteers) recipient, talks about the highs and lows of his Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) career over the past 35 years.
By Shahidah Sayadi
SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh being presented an appreciation award in 2006 from then Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui. Photo contributed by SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh

He is a man who doesn’t rest on his laurels, and it is this dedication of his that has earned him the great respect of his peers and juniors.

His success formula?

Leadership by example.

“If we are to go running, I will go with you. I may not run as fast, since you’re a 20-year-old and I am 50 plus, but I will join you,” said SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh.

SUPT (V) Toh, 57, has spent about 35 years with the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) and now helms the VSC unit in Ang Mo Kio Police Division.

He is one of the longest-serving VSC officers currently volunteering with the Force.

SUPT (V) Toh has been through various postings, some of which were at the Old Police Academy and the Airport Police Division (APD) in Changi Airport.

Pictured in his office at the Old Police Academy, SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh served his second posting there from December 1984 to July 1988 as a Sergeant (Admin) and Classroom Instructor. Photo contributed by SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh.

Of them all, he feels his posting as Head VSC of the Police Coast Guard (PCG) in 2010 was his most fulfilling as he brought about far-reaching changes to the operational and structural framework and initiated several projects with the regulars to integrate both volunteers and regular officers.

Coast Patrol Duties was one of the projects initiated which extended PCG’s capabilities beyond sea patrol duties to land duties as well and helped strengthen Singapore’s coastal security.

As part of efforts to boost  officers’ morale, he initiated new team bonding activities and even overseas trips to neighbouring countries.

One example of such an initiative was the break-fast session during the fasting month.

Since his posting to PCG in 2009, the break-fast session has become an annual practice.

He asked Muslim officers to organise such sessions and he would join them.

SUPT (V) Toh did not distinguish himself from his officers just because he was more senior in rank, but actually made the effort to get to know them.

He was known to be the first Head VSC of PCG to conduct face-to-face interviews with the officers.

Even though his role as the chief was mainly supervisory, officers often saw him take on patrol duties on the ground every Saturday.

The change management man’s efforts and contributions have been recognised and honoured with the prestigious Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (HT Volunteers) which was presented to him on 6 August 2012.

Having been a Troop Leader in the Boy Scouts in school, SUPT (V) Toh recalled that it was his passion for uniformed organisations that drove him to join the VSC in 1978.

While he has seen a successful VSC career, he recalled it was not easy at the beginning.

When he was first posted to Joo Chiat Police Station in 1978, he mainly worked with the “red lanyards”—the distinguishing feature for men serving their part-time National Service (NS) with the police back then.

He faced sarcastic remarks like “Why don’t you go home and sleep?” when he was on patrol duties with some of them.

SUPT (V) Toh persevered and chose not to let such comments discourage him.

To mark his tenth year of service with VSC, SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh was awarded a Singapore Police Service Good Service Medal during a commemoration ceremony in 1988. Photo contributed by SUPT (V) Jimmy Toh.

Since then, he has had numerous memorable experiences.

One of them was with the Airport Police Division (APD) where he was deployed before his PCG posting.

SUPT (V) Toh was tasked to start a VSC unit at Changi Airport in 1997, helming the Operations and Training.

During his deployment there, he was appointed the Deputy Head of VSC in 2004.

With 13 years at the unit, it was his longest deployment.

The VSC at the APD started with a staff-strength of 30 police officers and has since blossomed to 50 police officers.

He took on escort duties there to ensure the safety of Very Important Persons (VIPs) — not to be confused with what the personal bodyguards of VIPs do.

During escort duties, SUPT (V) Toh would assume crowd control duties where he would help ensure that the VIPs arrived safely at their destinations after disembarking from their flights.

Over the years, such duties gave him the opportunity to meet VIPs like Queen Elizabeth II, presidents from various countries and even the late pop icon, Michael Jackson.

Managing the volunteers has taught him how to be a better leader and he applies these learning points to his work in his day job as a Senior Human Resources practitioner.

Not only is he a colleague and a leader, he is also a motivator—he has been successful in turning frowns upside down and injecting a positive mindset amongst his peers and subordinates.

Despite balancing his day job and his unwavering commitment to the VSC, SUPT (V) Toh still manages to set aside time for his wife and two daughters.

The award recipient  also feels strongly for the need to be active in the community.

Reporting a loanshark runner seen spray-painting a neighbour’s house is an example of being public-spirited to him.

“If you don’t report, they will only become more daring and if everyone keeps to themselves, what will happen to Singapore?” said SUPT (V) Toh.

SUPT (V) Toh has won many other awards throughout his years of service but the Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (HT Volunteers) is by far the most prestigious for him.

However, recognition is not a driving force for him.

“As a volunteer, I could have easily come and gone when the going got tough, but I kept going,” said SUPT (V) Toh.




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More Volunteers:
COS 2017: Spreading SGSecure in his Neighbourhood
Making a Difference to the Lives of Ex-offenders and Youths at Risk
Meet the SGSecure Home Team Volunteers: Assistant Superintendent (V) Michael Lim
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