Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Singapore Police Force in YouTube (or "Should our SPF have a blog?") - Part 3

[From Part 2]

If the Singapore Police Force (SPF) can find a handful of officers who (1) are passionate about their jobs, and (2) can write and think like a blogger, then I think they really should consider starting a blog.

Not a "outreach blog" but a "Community-Engagement" blog.

Singapore Police Force

By "engagement" I mean on two fronts: Its own blog space (i.e. allow people to comment) and other people's blogs (i.e. comment on other people's spaces and this includes platforms like Facebook, YouTube etc).

A Singapore Police Force (SPF) Community-Engagement blog: Youth Issues

First, the blog.

Focus on a specific issue. I'd suggest "Youth-related issues" rather than all crime-related alert (those can be directed to the main SPF website).

For instance, I'd like to know what are the common cases the police officers face on a daily basis in dealing with young people. Not necessarily offenders.

What are their success stories in working or dealing with youths? What are the heartaches?

Or how about posts to warn students that "low crime doesn't mean no crime"?

Personally, I'd publish a post with a title that screams: Don't leave your wallets or mobile phones unattended in the public libraries!

Question: "But if SPF starts a blog, wouldn't that open up the Pandora's box, i.e. receiving tons of comments about say, the Mas Salamat issue?"

My response: Set expectations first.

Take the LAPD blog for instance. At the right column, it clearly says comments will only be published after being vetted. It also informs what are the appropriate channels to direct certain enquiries and feedback.

I've said it many times and I'll say it again: "It's not so much about What you write but How you write it".

If I were the SPF Corporate Communications staff, I will post something about the Mas Salamat case in this hypothetical "SPF Youth Outreach blog".

But I'll just post exactly what is posted at the main SPF website, like this instance:
Singapore Police Force

Comments can be selectively published, i.e. the disclaimer in the blog.

Or turn off the Comment feature for that post and write something like: "We won't be publishing any comments for this post. But we welcome you to submit your enquiries to this email address..."

Question: "But wouldn't [the police force blog] get criticised for censoring my views? If so, why start a blog in the first place?"

My response:
(1) There will always be critics. Those who'd criticise you would do so anyway. If the purpose and focus of the blog is clear, then I feel it's reasonable to set certain terms and conditions of use.

(2) What censorship? No one's stopping commenters from starting their own blog and publishing their comments about SPF. If they do so factually and responsibly, then it's to SPF's benefit.

Police officers who are bloggers as well as police officers
It's not enough to just start a blog.

The second part of the equation is to encourage and empower the staff blogger to go out there and leave meaningful comments. As mentioned earlier in this post, engagement should be on two fronts.

Set up google alerts to "listen" to what others are saying in their blogs (I realise we're talking about a Police Agency here, but if you wish to interpret this in a negative way, that's your prerogative, heh)

Not every post out there deserves your response. Only those you deem necessary.

If nothing else, then getting actual police officers to blog and share personal views (but not official secrets) is a great recruitment tool. I'm sure it will give insights to what makes the Singapore Police Force tick.

One example I know is the Singapore Nurses Blog <>. I'll find time to blog about that separately.


  1. Aisehman, for a skimmer you sure do ramble on a quite a bit!

    Submit to Traffic Police media department please. Why should just us blog readers suffer? Heh-heh!

  2. Yes Sir, Mr. Siva sir! lol

    Seriously, I do intend to suggest this to them. Am testing the idea with the Blogosphere first :)

  3. Anonymous4:02 pm

    In a way, having an SPF blog may somehow allow a platform for free exchange of information compared sharing insights to limited cicle of family members/friends.
    And "Don't leave your wallets or mobile phones unattended in the public libraries!" would have been a great topic to start with..and expand the locations to include canteens/foodcourts/fast food places etc etc ('s amazing how some people can leave valuables unattended and expect the other patrons to stop the culprit)

    However I am not sure whether some of these insights can be shared per se. I liken this to the P65 blog whereby the entries would have been politically correct, toeing the party line. I read the LAPD blog and they are official announcements which would have already been on the official website. I wonder if you will ever get to read about the challenges and triumphs the LAPD officers face on a daily and personal basis.

    But of course there are still avenues to explore,since youtube is already a start.The officers can probably share their efforts in routine or major operations (nobdy can understand how it feels to be standing guard during NDP duty for a whole of 12 hours on your off day, and still have to cover morning shift the next day, unless you have done it before).

  4. Anonymous6:09 am

    The above link leads to the official secrets act. Basically, leaking the wrong information will lead to you getting charge.

    Which are the wrong informations? It's not very clear. So what is the safe thing to do? Don't say anything.

    Singapore's laws are strict, and it is doubly hard on police officers, so don't expect any of them to stick their neck out and risk their careers anytime soon.

  5. [The original link posted by Anonymous is here]

    Hi Anonymous, my view is that every employee (govt or otherwise) has to abide by the terms of employement. If it's the OSA then we have to respect that. Obviously if the information is Restricted or Confidential, it's a clear cut case of "not able to be shared". But some information can be made public. I guess it's for SPF to decide if it's in their interest to share whatever it is that can be shared. That's my point. Cheers.


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