The doors suddenly flung open and a panic-stricken lady stood still at the entrance of our balai. The usual hustle and chatter at the balai enquiry counter came to an abrupt halt as if time had stopped.
Then the sobbing five-year-old girl sprung up from my lap, let out a small cry and dashed into her mother’s arms.
To everyone’s relief, another missing person case had been solved.
This is nothing heroic, just another routine operation – nowhere close to a drug lab bust that would attract media attention. But to the terrified little girl and her family, either way, this incident could change their lives forever – for better or worse.
That night, I clocked out from police volunteer duty at 1am. I was totally exhausted after a long day of lectures and night duty.
I left the balai close to 1.30am, which meant I only had a few hours to sleep before I had to wake up for work again. But I went home feeling grateful, happy and relieved. Days like this remind me of the reason why I am doing this at all.
Being a police volunteer reserve (PVR) is an eye-opening experience. We see everyday struggles that our communities face. In the process, we forget our own.
PVRs stand to help the police force and the communities in which we serve to resolve problems and respond to emergencies. At times, they could be criminal cases that are life-threatening, and at other times loss of property or just noisy neighbours.
PVRs today provide supplementary manpower to the police force, much like how the we started out years ago during the Malayan Emergency where civilians were recruited to assist the police to maintain the order, safety and security in new villages.
As PVRs, we are modest but steadfast. We are never in the forefront as our role is to support and assist the regular police officers.
We keep a low profile, as we should, and follow the lead of the regular police officers in carrying out their tasks. We don’t stand out in the crowd; in fact, we try not to.
Most of the time, we will go unnoticed and usually, the public cannot tell the difference. This adds on to the pressure to perform.
The public expects us to have nerves of steel and muscles of iron to accomplish tasks as professionally as the regular police officers do.
What they don’t realise is that we are clerks, teachers, farmers, shop assistants and businessmen (and professors!) by day, and police volunteers by night. However, this doesn’t stop us from taking on the challenge to look the part, act the part and get the job done.
Being a PVR is a humbling experience. We don’t have shiny medals to show.
The most avid Facebook and Instagram “kaki-s” among us have to resist the temptation of posting anything at all about the work we do. We took an oath and signed our lives away to maintain secrecy so we often can’t discuss anything with anyone.
My friends have often asked me why I do this and wonder if it is worth my time, risking my life and sacrificing my rest. I was not sure until I got reminded time and again that our small humble contributions can make a difference to someone, sometime.
As I write this article, a WhatsApp text comes in. My balai mate announces that the very grateful mother whose precious little girl we found that night had delivered a chocolate cake to our station to show her appreciation. This, to me, is the shiniest "medal".
I salute my comrades in the Police Volunteer Reserve of the Royal Malaysia Police force (Sukarelawan Simpanan Polis Diraja Malaysia) who spend their weekends and week nights away from their homes and families to protect our country, and maintain peace and order in our communities.
The Royal Malaysia Police force has served the nation for 213 years since March 25,1807, without a single day of rest. I reflect on the dedication and sacrifice of all police officers in Malaysia, including those who have lost their lives fighting for the same causes.
As we celebrate Police Day, our country is going through a challenging time fighting a pandemic. The nationwide Police Day celebrations and parades at the state and district levels had to be called off. Although the PDRM anthem Sang Sangka Biru will not play over the loud speakers today, it will in our hearts while we join the fight to help our country get through this very difficult time.
Associate Professor Dr Cheah Phaik Kin is a volunteer police constable in the Police Volunteer Reserve of the Royal Malaysia Police (Sukarelawan Simpanan Polis Diraja Malaysia). In her day job, she is a full-time academician in Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar Campus.
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