Helping the community is just one of the reasons why this family serves as Citizens on Patrol volunteers.
TEXT AND PHOTOS: MHA
Ten years ago, Mr Prabodh Kumar Rai, 54, senior security officer and grassroots leader in Bishan Zone 2 RC, started volunteering for the Citizens on Patrol (COP) programme.
COP is a volunteer scheme launched in 1999 by the Singapore Police Force (SPF). Residents patrol their neighbourhoods and alert the SPF when they observe suspicious activities or persons, as well as engage the community on crime-prevention measures.
In 2016, his wife, Mdm Jasvindran Devi, and daughter, Ms Mitashah Rai, joined COP after witnessing his passion for keeping their neighbourhood safe. “We decided to get involved too, as we get to interact with the community, share our knowledge and raise awareness of crime prevention,” says Ms Rai, 19.
Initially, Ms Rai was not familiar with the COP scheme and did not know what was required of a volunteer. However, after participating in a few patrols, she felt empowered to contribute more. “It made me realise the value of being a volunteer and how I can spend my time wisely by giving back to the community. I also get to share crime prevention advisories with fellow residents,” she explains.
It was also the perfect opportunity for the trio to bond amid their hectic schedules. “Volunteering for COP gives us the opportunity to come together as a family while serving the community. It also made us better understand and appreciate my dad’s volunteer efforts over the years,” says Ms Rai, now working as a nurse in SGH Eye Centre. To juggle between COP duties and their respective work and academic responsibilities, the family members cross-check their schedules against the upcoming patrol dates and arrange their patrol duties accordingly.
The volunteering journey has not however always been a smooth one. Over the years, Mr Kumar and his family have experienced their fair share of challenging situations — and people — during their patrols around Bishan Park.
They have had to deal with parkgoers who breach safety rules such as cycling at prohibited areas, smoking and creating a public nuisance after 10.30pm. “We tackle such situations by sharing information and explaining to the parties involved,” says Ms Rai. “If they fail to understand or cooperate with us, we will then call the nearby Neighbourhood Police Centre for support.”
The family shares with Frontline that they would continue with their COP commitments. They also encourage other families to come forward to give their time. “It is important to advocate volunteerism as volunteers play a key role in helping raise awareness for the cause and the organisation,” adds Mdm Devi, 55, a housewife. “In this case, for COP, we play a part in ensuring the safety and security of the community we live and work in.”
“Volunteering helps build closeness among family members and helps anyone pick up competencies in areas such as learning how to handle tricky situations calmly and honing their critical-thinking abilities”, notes Mr Kumar, who adds that “volunteering demonstrates the importance of giving back to the community as well”.
Find out more about how you can make a difference in your community.