The Police Journal
A little over twenty years ago, there was no such publication as
Police Life. There was something called the Police Journal that
had been around since the 50’s but it appeared infrequently
and gradually ceased publication.
Commissioner Goh Yong Hong in 1976 proposed the creation of a regular
magazine that would not only help explain management policies to
the officers on the ground but would also chronicle important events
in the police’s professional and social calendar.
Input from the professionals
The job of co-ordinating the project fell to ASP (resigned) Daniel
Tan. Daniel had had no experience in magazine production and had
no staff he could turn to for such specialised support. But he knew
that there were bound to be some part-time National Servicemen with
the right qualifications and experience he could use, whose talents
were not being fully used in routine duties such as patrolling.
A check through PNS records showed that there were quite a number
of such officers around. Terry Ang, currently a Strait Times sub-editor
was one of these.
“I was on beat duty, doing about four hours a week,”
recalls Terry. “When I was approached to join the Public Relations
Department (now the PAD) to do magazine work, I jumped at the opportunity.”
A formidable team
When Terry came on board the editorial team, he was pleasantly surprised
to see many of his peers there. One such person was Herbert Teo,
now a consultant with Hains Marketing Communications in Australia.
Herbert, who had by then established a reputation locally as an
ace reporter with the afternoon paper the Malay mail (which was
eventually to become the New Paper) had until then been serving
part-time NS as a drill sergeant in the Police Academy.
The first issue of Police Life made its debut as a bi-monthly on
11 August 1976. It was slim, black and white issue with a colour
cover. It was a hundred per cent homemade product in which a team
of mostly professional journalists wrote the articles, sub-edited
them, designed the pages, drew the illustrations, even took photographs
and laid the pages. With a low budget to work with, they were not
able to afford top quality paper or fancy printing but what they
lacked in financial resources they made more than made up for in
the level of journalism.
V/Insp Yap Boh Tiong, currently a managing director of a PR company
Mileage Communications recalls that the team worked in a highly
informal fashion. He recalls that Clement Mesenas, a veteran journalist,
was an associate editor on the team then. The team used to meet
in Clement’s office to brainstorm ideas for the new issue.
Arranging to meet was no easy matter – all the team members
worked in different places at different times and trying to schedule
meetings was a complex business.
The editorial team expanded rapidly as other qualified media men
joined its ranks. At its peak, it engaged two editors, three sub-editors,
six reporters, a graphic artist, a paste – up artists and
photographer, as well a coordinator and support staff. At least
six of the editorial team were professional journalists.
As manpower became scarce through the years, regular police personnel
who had been involved with Police Life were deployed to other departments.
The magazine had begun to generate funding through advertising so
editing, design and layout were farmed out to a private design company.
The next major step in the evolution of Police Life came when it
switched to partial colour and then to full colour. By this time,
the editorial team had no professionals except for the editor and
designer- the NS journalists had been replaced by young school leavers
doing full- time police NS.
The young PNS writers lacked experience but were keen to learn and
enthusiastic. Its was this energy and the support shown by management
that helped Police Life reach its pinnacle of achievement –
it won the National Productivity Board Award for best in –house
newsletter for five years in succession until the awards were discontinued.
Today, in line with the SPF’s policy of optimising manpower
resources, Police Life engages a small team of regulars and PNS
officers, a fraction the size of the original team. But improved
information technology, streamlined procedures, sound management
and the unflagging enthusiasm of the present team has ensured that
the magazine remains a faithful mirror of Police Life in the day