In August 2005, the latest class of police constable recruits will complete their 27-week training programme and be ready to tackle the next stage of a career that promises its fair share of challenges and excitement. Attending the passing out ceremony will be Yan Chin Hung, course instructor for the Basic Training Division in the Police Training School, who will no doubt be looking on with an understandable sense of pride.
Since he first joined the school in 2003, Sergeant Yan has already transformed the lives of around 100 inexperienced young people and prepared them for the vital role of serving and protecting the community. His daily routine starts from 8am and includes five teaching sessions each morning and three in the afternoon. Even though his main task is to teach law and related subjects, the job involves much more. "I'm father, big brother and counsellor all in one," he jokes. "I see students before class, during lunch and at the end of the day to find out how they are getting on and to help with any difficulties or stressful situations. During lessons, we not only teach them law and legal procedures, we also keep a keen focus on developing their attitude and the ability to apply their skills and knowledge. Since there's no time to discuss personal issues, it is therefore of the utmost importance to find opportunities to facilitate growth and provide guidance."
In doing this, the job throws up many different challenges. For example, Sergeant Yan notes that recruits may not thoroughly understand their own state of mind or may be in poor physical condition. They could also have unrealistic expectations of the training and their future career. "We need to explain and clarify things; that's where the challenge and satisfaction arise," he says.
With the police, job rotations usually occur every four years, which is the standard period for anyone to work as a course instructor. After completing the assignment, officers move on to other duties, ensuring that they and the incoming instructors remain up to date.
The secret of success is that you don't wait around for things to happen!
Sergeant Yan started as a police constable in 1982 and, through a series of promotions and postings, has served in the report room, police tactical unit, district special duties squad, Shek Kong Vietnamese Refugee Centre, and the special traffic investigation team. He was also appointed officer in charge of the District Traffic Team. He has enjoyed the changes and constant challenges of combining frontline and management-style responsibilities, and has always sought ways to pass on his expertise. "Before becoming an instructor, I would coach the rookies at work, but here I can help to influence the training and the way they work from day one in a continuous and direct way," he says. "I hope to pass on my knowledge and skills to let new recruits know what it takes to be a police officer and meet the needs of the community."
Not content with teaching, Sergeant Yan has continued to study throughout his career. He was taking a management course when promoted to station sergeant in 1998 and, in 2004, earned a diploma in adult learning from the University of Hong Kong. Like his police colleagues, he has also taken regular vocational courses and specialist training programmes. "We constantly need to upgrade ourselves, especially if working in positions away from the front line," he says. Fortunately, as an instructor, he has found there is a chance to learn, as well as to hone teaching techniques and communication skills, which have a direct impact on how much the students absorb.
In Sergeant Yan's view, today's police have become more service-oriented. "It's all about our attitude and the public's expectations," he says. "When we're dealing with serious crime, we need to be determined; when we're helping the needy, we believe that people want to see a more friendly side. However, our job is to protect society, so upholding an image comes second."
His 20 years of commitment and dedication have earned Sergeant Yan a well-deserved Long Service Medal, but he is still looking forward to further opportunities and challenges. "There are many job possibilities with the police, provided you prepare yourself and take the initiative. The secret of success is that you don't wait around for things to happen!" He advises those who may be thinking of signing up to be ready both physically and psychologically for the job and the social responsibilities it entails. "The Hong Kong Police represent discipline, righteousness, efficiency and unlimited challenges. Joining the police is the start of a lifelong career," he says.
Hong Kong-trained police officers cannot expect to work across the border on a full-time basis, but there are frequent opportunities to cooperate with the disciplined services on the mainland. Over the years, close links have been developed in order to improve the exchange of information and combat cross-border crime. Training programmes and ad hoc exercises are arranged on a regular basis to bring together personnel from both the Hong Kong and South China forces.