2. In 1843, Thomas Dunman, a 29-year old commercial assistant was appointed to head the police force on a part-time basis. With the passing of the Police Act of 1856, he was appointed as the first full-time Commissioner of Police in 1857.
3. In 1862, a small Detective Branch, the precursor of the Criminal Investigation Department was set up to look into secret societies and the violent crimes they committed. The Marine Police was established in 1866 to deal with piracy. The Criminal Intelligence Department (the forerunner of the Special Branch and subsequently, the Internal Security Department) was set up in 1918 to concentrate on seeking out and putting an end to seditious activities. The Traffic Police was started in 1918 to regulate and control traffic. The Police Training School (later elevated to the status of a Police Academy in 1969) in Thomson Road was established in 1929.
4. In 1945, after the end of the Second World War and the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the SPF faced many problems from two sources that had been dormant during the Japanese Occupation the communists and the secret societies. The Force was also caught unprepared during the disastrous riots of the 1950s, which included the Maria Hertogh Riots in 1950, the Hock Lee Bus Riots in 1955 and the Chinese Middle School Riots in 1956. As a result, the Force had to work tirelessly to re-establish law and order to regain public confidence. Several units were also set up: the Radio Branch in 1945 (re-designated as Radio Division in 1948 when the emergency hotline '999' was launched); the Volunteer Special Constabulary in 1946; the Gurkha Contingent in 1949; the Security Branch in 1951; the Riot Squad in 1952; and the Airport Police in 1954. In 1949, the first batch of 10 female constables was recruited. The National Police Cadet Corps was formed in 1959 to engage students from different ethnic backgrounds.
5. The decade following 1959 was politically significant and challenging for Singapore. The problems of security and law and order severely tested the Force. The 1970s were a welcome relief after the turbulent 60s. Singapore had defied the odds and done surprisingly well. The SPF was gaining greater public support because of its efficiency. The SPF successfully provided security coverage during the 32-Nation Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1971 and the South East Asia Peninsular Games in 1973. To bring the SPF closer to the community, new police stations near housing estates were established. A Staff Inspectorate Unit was formed to monitor discipline and adherence to procedures. The SPF launched its own overseas scholarship in 1979.
6. The SPF also managed well in major incidents namely the 1974 Laju Hijack (when a group of foreign terrorists hijacked a local ferry and held its crew hostage) and the 1978 Spyros Disaster (an explosion on board a giant Greek oil tanker which left 76 dead and 69 seriously hurt). The Laju Hijack saw the need to have a sufficient reserve of trained officers who could be relied upon to supplement regular officers during a security crisis. The solution was the introduction of full-time Police National Service in the Force in 1975. The Scene of Crime Unit was established in the same year. The year 1977 saw the establishment of the Police Tactical Team and the Crime Prevention Branch.
7. By 1980, Singapore had become the world's second busiest port. Against the backdrop of economic growth, the SPF too had to change. The National Crime Prevention Council was formed in 1981. The Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP) system of community policing was implemented in 1983 and new divisional headquarters were established. The 1980s witnessed the occurrence of two major incidents: the unexpected plunge of the Sentosa Cable Car in 1983 and the collapse of the Hotel New World in 1986. During those crises, the SPF controlled the situation effectively and assisted in rescue operations. The resilience, courage and professionalism of the Police in carrying out their duties efficiently and effectively in critical moments were commendable.
8. The 1990s saw Singapore's criminal justice system coming under international spotlight on a number of occasions. On each occasion, external interests were involved. As an example, the caning of American teenage vandal Michael Fay strained Singapore's relations with the world's only superpower. As the SPF investigated these cases, it had to take the heat from the media of these countries. But the Police's handling of the cases was beyond reproach. The transparency, thoroughness and professionalism throughout the investigation enhanced its reputation as an efficient Force.
9. The SPF recognized the importance of quality service and encouraged service excellence amongst its officers. A landmark decision took place in January 1997 when the Force made public its Service Pledge. This was also a period when new technology enhanced police operations and investigation. The SPF also showed its willingness to help in international policing by sending a contingent to join the United Nation Peacekeeping Force in Namibia in 1989. It reflected Singapore's coming of age as a significant player in the international scene, size notwithstanding. The SPF was also involved in several other missions such as in South Africa, Cambodia and East Timor in subsequent years. During the same period, the NPP system underwent a thorough review and the result was the birth of a new round-the-clock, one-stop service concept - the Neighbourhood Police Centre in 1996. Other significant progress in the 1990s was in the areas of organisational development, staff development, crime control and enhanced media relations.
10. At the dawn of the new millennium, the Force had an enviable report card; crime was low; secret societies were virtually non-existent; the illegal immigrant problem was under control; and co-operation with public and commercial organisations and international police partners had strengthened. A culture of learning had taken root within the organisation and public-spiritedness was at an all-time high.
11. The SPF today is a modern, efficient and well-equipped body of professionals in pursuit of continuous improvement and world-class excellence. It is critical in maintaining the reputation of cosmopolitan Singapore as a safe city of low crime, and has supported Singapore in the hosting of significant events over the last decade including the 2006 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group (S2006) meetings and the APEC meetings in 2009.
12. In 2002, the SPF received the prestigious Singapore Quality Award (SQA), the highest award given to organisations for business excellence. On 9 October 2007, the SPF was further awarded the SQA with Special Commendation. The SQA with Special Commendation award recognizes past SQA winners for scaling greater heights of business excellence and for demonstrating global leadership in key business areas.
13. Today's operating environment is full of uncertainties. International terrorism is a growing threat to security and Singapore is not immune from its dangers. The 11 September 2001 attacks in USA underscore the need to be vigilant at all times. In order to maintain a high level of preparedness to counter terrorist attacks, the SPF's sophisticated intelligence network and Special Forces are always on full alert. Compounding these uncertainties has been challenges such as the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002/3, and the Influenza A (H1N1) flu pandemic in 2009, a rapidly evolving Singapore as well as an uncertain world economy. Despite the operational demands, SPF officers remain determined to ride out the storm together, using our shared vision as the guiding beacon to do it for the Force, our nation and the ones we love.