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Eagle-Eyed

The two officers stared intently at the monitors, scrutinizing the CCTV camera footage for any additional detail that might help identify the theft suspect. As they watched, the man vanished into the crowd without a trace. Staff Sergeant Pragas remarked to his police counterpart that the suspect seemed familiar, and was possibly a frequent traveller to Singapore.

Two days later, SSGT (APF) Pragas singlehandedly identified the suspect at a distance, despite a complete change of attire - leading directly to a successful arrest.

This was not the first time Pragas’ keen eyes and vigilance had proven useful in the line of duty. While on routine patrol that same month, he recognized and detained another individual who had committed theft just an hour before, despite only having seen him from camera footage. When asked how he feels about receiving commendations for the abovementioned incidents, he smiles and brushes it off.

“It’s all in a day’s work,” he replies modestly.

As the team leader and supervisor for the Auxiliary Police Officers deployed at both Singapore Cruise Centre and Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, SSGT (APF) Pragas usually has his hands full with his duties. When he isn’t attending meetings, liaising with clients or preparing management reports, Pragas is on the ground, overseeing the deployment of his officers and carrying out regular duties alongside them.

“It can really get crowded here. During peak periods, three or four ferries come in every 15 minutes at the ferry terminal’s arrival hall. That’s not even counting the cruises!”

Fortunately, Pragas runs a tight ship – his teams are close-knit and work very well together. Their affinity for teamwork is essential to both their duties and morale, and it shows: over the years, there have been zero instances of late-coming and minimal turnover.

An environment such as the ferry terminal can be equal parts stressful and eventful to work in. One of the highlights for Pragas is interacting with and talking to travellers. Meeting people from different walks of life and with a wide range of perspectives can be a learning experience in itself. He also derives a sense of fulfilment from helping those who need it, especially the elderly. One particular incident stayed with him – an elderly passenger once had a heart attack after embarking from a ferry. Being the nearest available officer, he performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took over. Tragically, the passenger did not survive.

To Pragas, that incident highlighted the importance of the training that he and his officers underwent before their deployment. Auxiliary Police Officers at the Cruise Centre and ferry terminals receive mandatory first aid and CPR training, conducted by personnel from St John Singapore.

“As the designated first responders in those areas, it is vital that we have the necessary skills should such things occur. At the end of the day, we must be able to handle whatever comes our way – only then we can say that we have created a truly secure environment”.