Singapore’s most famous cop

You might not know Assistant Superintendent Ryan Koh, but you’ve definitely seen the NTU biological sciences graduate around. Derek Rodriguez meets the dashing man in blue

With over 800 cardboard standees of him in a “stop crime” pose scattered around the island, Ryan Koh, 32, is one of the most-seen faces in Singapore. Recently, an anti-shoplifting video released by the Singapore Police Force featuring the crime investigation officer went viral, attracting over 840,000 views.
Born to be blue
“I left the leisure industry to join the force. Being a policeman was my childhood dream. It might be because of the police drama serials I used to watch when I was young. True police work is not as action-packed and glamorous as it is on screen, and it involves a lot of hard work. But I find it gratifying nonetheless. I’m glad I’ve fulfilled my ambition.”
Face of the force
“It started when I was approached to help with the ‘More Than Just A Job’ recruitment campaign. Sometime later, one of my pictures was selected for the shop theft initiative. That’s the one used for the standee. I feel privileged to be able to ‘fight crime’ in a slightly unconventional way.”

The gentle touch
“Some people think that police officers are very rigid and inflexible, but I beg to differ. When handling complex cases, we always aim to resolve issues in the best interests of everyone involved, while still observing legal boundaries.”

Not “caught” yet
“Contrary to what my relatives and friends think, no one has ever recognised me on the street as the ‘recruitment policeman’ or ‘shop theft policeman’.”

My uni days
“My fondest memories of NTU are of the Freshmen Orientation Camps of the School of Biological Sciences. I attended my first camp as a freshie. In my second year, I was a camp group leader and the following year, I joined the main organising committee as a chief group leader. We had fun and forged many friendships. Being part of this group and progressing with it made it especially memorable for me. I was also involved in hall camps, inter-hall and inter-school games and welfare activities.”

Policing hearts
“Being involved in student activities helped me see the importance of leadership and teamwork, because I had to lead other student helpers to run events smoothly and to ensure that our goals were met. I also learnt how to communicate and negotiate better. All these experiences helped me in the real world after I graduated from NTU in 2008.”

Work hard, play hard
“My motto in life is ‘The experience is yours!’ It is also the motto of the Outdoor Activities Club I was in during my junior college days. It motivates me to be adventurous. Our experiences shape our characters, and no one can take that away from you.”