06 May 2017
Prepared to Serve

A passion for justice and bringing closure to victims of crime.

As Head of the Special Investigation Section of the Criminal Investigation Department, SUPT Goh Tat Boon leads a dedicated team of crime-fighters who investigate major crimes such as homicide, firearms offences and kidnapping cases. A seasoned officer, he is committed to making a difference to the lives of the public.

SUPT Goh first joined the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as a Constable in 1986, after completing his O-Levels. Following four years of uniformed patrol duties at Bedok Division, he eagerly took on the challenge of investigative work.

Life in a Police Division can be very busy; you deal with all kinds of cases, from minor complaints and disputes to incidents involving violence. In those days, Investigation Officers did 24-hour shifts, and took on all cases within that period. Then again, police work has always been 24/7.

On the first day I reported for duty as an Assistant Investigation Officer, I was issued a typewriter. Four of us would work in a small room, and we’d meet witnesses, complainants and informants throughout the day, preparing statements and reports.

It was important to pick up investigative skills quickly. An essential skill was interviewing people. Back then, people were less willing to come forward to assist the Police. We had to know how to talk to people and win their confidence, get information, generate leads and solve cases.

In every criminal case, there’s a victim who has to be answered to. So when we brought a criminal to justice and conveyed the good news to the victim’s family, we felt a sense of joy. We’d brought them closure.

SUPT Goh’s efforts and aptitude for the job were recognised by his supervisors, and in 1995, he was made Staff Sergeant before becoming Inspector of Police in 1997. The expanded role saw him working on major cases; these included the Committee of Inquiry into the Nicoll Highway collapse in 2004 and the capture of murderer "One-eyed Dragon" Tan Chor Jin in 2006.

Tan had shot and killed a man in Serangoon and had fled the country. Major crimes like this have an impact on the public’s sense of safety and security, and we moved fast to find him by working with our counterparts in the region.

Several of us were sent to Johor Bahru for a briefing. We thought it would be a short visit, and I’d only travelled with my passport.

Then we received new information – Tan was in the country. We drove to Kuala Lumpur and began to track his movements. Over 10 days, we travelled to other parts of the country before Tan was apprehended by the authorities. He was brought back to Singapore to stand trial, and received the death penalty.

When we get the call, we deal with it straight away. We work as a team, and that’s our commitment as SPF officers. Though we may feel tired or stressed, we must overcome these to do our job. This also means making personal sacrifices.

SOL07B

In 2012, SUPT Goh was appointed Superintendent of Police. As Head of the Special Investigation Section at CID, he now handles investigations into major cases. Having demonstrated his commitment to service, in 2016, SUPT Goh was the first Investigation Officer to be appointed an Expert under SPF’s Expert Career Track Scheme. The programme offers officers in key areas of expertise new career developmental pathways.

According to SUPT Goh, having a degree is secondary to being willing to make a difference in the lives of others. 

For me, it’s about being prepared to serve.

We need many different types of talent to move forward and take on new security challenges, but a degree cannot be the sole foundation for career advancement.

In a meritocratic organisation, it’s really about being responsible and dedicating ourselves to service, not the paper chase. It’s much harder to pursue a criminal than a degree.

So it doesn’t matter whether you have a degree because if you’re not committed to service, you won’t advance. That’s  the bottom line for me.

I made the decision to serve when I joined SPF in 1986. It has been an amazing journey, and I still feel joy each time we solve a case. But I’m not exceptional; there are many like me.

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