From fighting crime to fighting Covid-19...

Being a police officer or personnel, you have to be brave in upholding the law, says Comm Datuk Seri Abd Rahim Jaafar. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

AFTER 35 years in the police force, true crimebuster Comm Datuk Seri Abd Rahim Jaafar has called time on a distinguished career. The former Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department (KDNKA) director, who retired on May 19, sat down with Sunday Star recently to look back on life as a man in blue.

> When did you join the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM)?

I started my career in PDRM on Feb 2,1986. My first posting was at Kelantan crime investigation department's (CID) gang division and after that, I was appointed Pasir Mas deputy OCPD. From then on, I have been in various divisions, with majority of it in CID. I have also held various posts including deputy CID chief in Kedah, Terengganu and Selangor, Bukit Aman CID principal assistant director as well as Johor CID chief.

> You have held many posts throughout your career in the police force, including Bukit Aman Management department director, Kedah police chief, and Johor CID chief. How was your experience in the departments?

All divisions and positions have their own challenges. I have served in many departments, including the CID, the Management Department and KDNKA. Each department has its role and function in achieving the vision, mission, and objectives of PDRM. For example the CID deals with the investigation, arrest and prosecution of both violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape etc., and less serious crimes such as theft and house breaking.

This department also specialises in investigating gambling, vice and secret societies (triads).

The KDNKA on the other hand focuses on preserving the law and national security with its mission on maintaining national security and order.

The Management Department has its primary focus on PDRM's human capital and excellence in providing professional and quality services to the community. This department provides and develops dynamic and competent human capital in providing professional and quality services to the community. In general, the department is responsible for the management and administration of PDRM.

> Which department was the most challenging?

Among all the departments I have served, the management department is considered the most challenging. Why? Because it coordinates the activities of officers and men, delegates authority to subordinates, takes important decisions and look after human relation activities. Also, the exciting part of management, in my opinion, is the ability to communicate and interact with the other departments and getting their feedback to improve the organisation. Dealing with people is always fun because it is unpredictable. Not all will react the same way in any given situation, nor would the same person respond the same way from one day to the next. This is what makes the job so challenging.

> While in Johor as the CID chief, you faced various complex cases. How do you reflect in your time in the southern state?

Praise to Allah the Almighty, throughout the days serving in the Johor as CID Chief since 2004 for almost 23 months, I managed to carry out my duties. The scope of the crime in Malaysia is complex and presents a great challenge because of the sophisticated operation of the crime with strong chain of networks.

The most challenging case was the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl in Bandar Baru Uda, Johor Baru in 2006. The body was found in a drain two days after the parents lodged a report that she was missing.

I spent many sleepless nights on that case, cracking my head to solve it. There were a lot of challenges and many wanted the suspect to be apprehended as soon as possible.

The case was even more personal to me as the body was discovered near my house then. The body was discovered by a student who happen to be near the drain on Jan 27,2006.

We used various means to identify the suspects, including talking to nearby residents to gather information but to no avail.

I then followed a theory that the culprit could have been someone with a criminal record. We managed to question a 17-year-old boy who led us to the main suspect – a 21-year-old man. True enough, the suspect had various criminal records. He was apprehended on Feb 16,2006 and prosecuted on Feb 27 the same year. In August, 2009, the suspect was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

> What are the other highlights of your time as Johor CID chief?

We managed to bust various syndicates and gangs in Johor. However, the most memorable would be busting the M-16 Gang. The gang had been active since 2000 and its members were those in their 40s. They were targeting goldsmiths. However, we managed to nab all their members and seized a large number of firearms and gold.

There has been a slate of crimes in Johor at that time. Among the types of crime which showed increases were murder, gang armed robberies,

daytime break-ins and motorcycle thefts. There were 23,525 cases recorded in the state in 2005 compared with 22,427 in 2004. The highest reduction was in firearms robberies, with 17 cases recorded in 2005 compared with 34 in 2004. I am not alone because I have a great team as my backbone to support me to overcome these crime trends in Johor. Special task forces had been set up to tackle crimes, and because of that teams, cases such as snatch thefts and murders could be solved quickly.

> What was your principle in carrying out your duties as a police officer?

Being a police officer or personnel, you have to be brave in upholding the law. We do not need to be afraid if we are carrying our duties in the right manner. Above all else, we have to carry out the mandate given without fear or favor.

I received a lot of threats over the years. When I was Penang deputy police chief, I got a letter along with a bullet when we declared war on gangs there. Threats are part and parcel of being in the police force. Actually, the gangsters should be afraid of us...As long as we are in the police force, we have to be brave and firm in protecting the people.

> Leading the KDNKA at a time when the nation is facing the Covid-19 pandemic must have been a daunting task. How did you face such a challenging responsibility?

I was lucky that my predecessor was current Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani. He helmed KDNKA from the beginning of the pandemic. I am thankful to him for setting the pace to fight this menace. Nevertheless, new challenges were taking place as I took over the helm in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic created social upheaval and altered norms for all members of society, but its effects on first responders have been particularly profound. Law enforcement officers have been expected to coordinate local shutdowns, encourage social distancing, and enforce stay-at-home mandates all while completing the responsibilities for which they are already understaffed. Covid-19 policing is believed to be a significant stressor for police officers while compounding the general and organisational stress associated with the occupation.

Police is one of the most mentally taxing occupations – with long and often rotating shifts, threats of violence, increased need for hypervigilance and a lack of public support, creating chronic stress.

Nevertheless, as a police officer we are trained to take the challenge, so whatever may come, we will rise to the challenge and take it on.

This year, as we know, the second surge of the pandemic was worse than the first. PDRM takes this current trend very seriously, especially the rise of the second wave of new infections. Our priority now is to prevent the further spread of this virus within the population. The current scenario requires drastic measures to be taken to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

A clockwork system was set in place and the whole PDRM was mobilised to help the government bring down the numbers. The advent of the discovery of the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel. The national Covid-19 immunisation program which is currently underway will certainly free Malaysia and the world from this pandemic.

> How do you reflect your 35-years career in the police force?
Working as a police officer can be satisfying, rewarding, saddening, lonely, and fulfilling, all during the same shift. The job pays quite well and the benefits are typically good, but each day can present a new challenge.
PDRM taught me pure values and courage in facing all challenges.

As a police officer, you have to work in challenging situations on a daily basis. The officers must commit to their role as to make their communities safer places to live. No matter what happens, I always make sure that the trust that has been given to me will implement sincerely and responsibly. Nevertheless, success in a career is not measured in terms of promotion alone but it’s also the satisfaction that has been achieved in carrying out the task.

> What is your advice to current police personnel and officers?

I would like to take this opportunity to advise all officers and members of PDRM to carry out the trust entrusted to them with complete integrity. Do your job with sincerity and honesty. Remember that caring the badge doesn’t make you better than others. The person you are treating like you are better than them put their pants on the same way you do. Treating people with respect is a lot easier than treating people like they are not as good as us.

Value additional training, such as optional training and professional development opportunities are worth your time. Whether it’s training inside or outside of your agency, mentorships, interagency partnerships, formal educational opportunities or scholarships – take advantage of these offerings early on.

Find a mentor because mentorship is another area where police officers could really use the support. A mentor may not have all the answers, but they can certainly provide some excellent tips and advice for navigating a challenging career. For example I’m lucky my mentor at that time have taught me the value of building a foundation to become a good investigator and supervisor.

The preparedness of mental and emotional health, there are times when an officer cannot afford to make any mistakes. Their life, or the lives of others, can be put on the line at any time.
From self-driving cars to drone-delivered online shopping, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) is changing how we live, work, and communicate. Criminals are becoming more adept at committing crimes, especially cybercrimes. officers needs to be sensitive to the latest technological changes to combat the increasing cybercrime activities.

> What are your plans after retirement?

I have been with PDRM for almost 35 years. I am so thankful of having been given the opportunity when I was only 25 to join this dedicated and highly respected agency. Being taken on board here to grow and excel in my field was the career move I had been hoping to find.

So now, a new beginning for me, a new journey, the time everyone calls “retirement” – the time that is for all those hobbies and activities we don't have time to do when we have a career. It will be a difficult transition for sure, as my career has been a passion for me all these years and now I have to find something else to keep me busy.

I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and friends. My wife, children and my grandkids are extremely happy for me and eager to introduce me to all sorts of new leisure activities to tire me out more I think than anything else so that I don't drive them all crazy with all this new free time I have on my hands.

I am also planning to get involve in volunteering in the community, clubs and societies which I am enthusiastic to share my experience with.

Next, I am planning to grow a garden. Working outdoors when the weather is nice makes life worth living, at least for me. Gardening comes in many forms. Some people love growing vegetables, and some prefer the beauty of a flower garden. But for me and my wife, we prefer both as we share the same passion in gardening. I have been looking forward to this for years. I see it as a chance to renew our relationship without the pressures of work and children.

Lastly, I think I might get actively involve in politics... this is a joke of course. I might go travelling once the restrictions are lifted.

Yes, there are compensations in life's transitions!

Now is the time to enjoy your heart's desire, to live the dreams you've waited for, to awaken the depths beyond your work and enter into your infinite source.

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