A sense of empathy is SUPT (NS) Azrin bin Abdul Rahim’s tool of choice when counselling PNS officers charged with disciplinary and criminal offences.
TEXT: SANDHYA MAHADEVAN
PHOTOGRAPHY: ANGELA GUO
No one really wants to be bad. Those who commit crimes have either rationalised things differently or been influenced by external factors.
The silat trainer (he formerly captained the national silat team) and certified counsellor heads a Provost Intervention Wing, set up by PNSD, which helps criminally charged PNS officers reintegrate with their respective units and reduce recidivism.
“We reconnect them to the values of the force, and get them to think like police officers once again,” he adds. The “we” refers to his team of counsellors, social workers and a forensic psychologist – all of whom are NSmen.
To Azrin, early intervention is key. Recalling his days as an NSF at Jurong Police Division, when he was part of an investigation programme, he witnessed incidents that could have been averted had there been proper programmes in place to handle them. These prompted him to become a counsellor.
Then, while serving his ORNS cycle as a disciplinary officer under PNSD, he began working with the department’s Provost branch to study how PNSmen with professional expertise in psychology and an interest in social work can help steer misguided PNS officers back on track. The rest is history.
This April, PNSD launched a pilot programme known as E2i (Engagement, Integration and Inoculation), where PNS officers who have been flagged are referred to trained mentoring officers from the host unit for counselling sessions before his team takes over. The programme, at its infancy stage, has transformed some troubled PNS officers, helping them rationalise their behaviour and strengthen family relations.
It’s evident that Azrin has a lot on his plate – he’s currently pursuing a doctorate in existential psychotherapy and counselling from the UK’s Middlesex University, and working on a book project. But this grandfather is always available to lend a listening ear.