24 Hours at Sai Kung Police Station

Annie Wong spends a day with the officers from the police station.
Photos by Eric Ho and Stephanie Brown

police officer

06:45 I enter the gates of the Sai Kung Police Station. It is eerily quiet with only the rustle of trees audible. The grounds are still wet from the rain the night before.

station entrance06:50 There are two officers in the report room. It’s exactly how I imagined it would look like – the walls are a mixture of muted greys and blues. I ask for Max Yip, Sai Kung’s Assistant Operations Divisional Commander.

07:00 Max greets me and leads me along several hallways, up a few staircases and into one of their offices on the second level which overlooks the station’s car park. Max and the officers equip themselves and prepare for the day.

07:10 All officers check their email and prepare for the sub unit commander briefing session.

Max tells me it’s been a busy weekend for Sai Kung – there were four missing persons cases, plus the heightened patrol at the pier for day trippers during the junk boat season.

07:15 We walk into the briefing room. The officers report on the cases from the previous shift including the batch of 999 calls. I meet Daniel Tsang, Sai Kung’s Divisional Commander.

Max details two specific search and rescue cases. The first being an 87 year old man with dementia, who has been missing for seven days.

The second, a young female Sai Kung resident missing for four days.

The common issues the officers deal with are traffic enforcement, felling of incense trees, burglaries and missing persons cases. Max assures me that Sai Kung is a relatively peaceful place.

police briefing08:15 Officer in charge of the Rural Patrol Unit (RPU), Kam Sir, nicknamed Kam Ye (Master Kam), for his long service in the police force, briefs his team and checks the footage of the suspicious campsites where felling of incense trees have been reported. “Felling of incense trees is a common issue in Sai Kung. We rely on villagers to inform us of any suspected fellings nearby. The incense trees have medicinal value in Chinese Medicine so it’s become a business for Mainlanders.”

Incense trees, although not native to, are prevalent in Sai Kung, Tseung Kwan O and surrounding villages. Kam Sir proudly tells me the RPU team seized 100 kilograms of incense trees which was estimated to be worth $10 million last year. It was a record breaking case for the team.

09:00 A report of illegal parking in Sai Kung town comes in. A police officer is sent to check up on the situation.

09:30 Daniel has a meeting with the Fire Services Department about the missing 87 year old man. The man from Lei Muk Shue had reportedly planned to go on a hike. Search area and routes are discussed.

Also on the agenda, there are several events for Yu Lan Festival (Hungry Ghost Festival) in the Sai Kung area coming up. Yu Lan Festival falls on the 7th month of the Lunar calendar where many locals make efforts to appease ‘ghosts’ by burning false money and other offerings for them to use in the afterlife. “We have to patrol the event and the area for the whole day. It is extremely popular for the elderly to attend these events so we have to be extra careful.” says Max..

10:00 A handful of front line staff and the RPU team set out to search the discussed routes to find the missing man. Missing persons cases are common, particularly in the summer and autumn months, when hiking and other outdoor activities are most popular. “There are constant challenges for us. Missing persons cases is one of our top priorities in Sai Kung.” says Daniel.

10:45 Daniel drives to Wong Tai Sin Police Station to discuss the policing issues of Sai Kung with the District Operations Commander.

11:00 We walk over to the onsite canteen which is across the road from the main building. Officers start piling in – some read the paper, watch TV and some are engaged in conversation. Lunch options are displayed on the blackboard near the kitchen. The choices today include Xiamen-style fried vermicelli, scrambled egg and beef rice and curry fish with rice. I admit, there is a good variety available.

15:00 The interchange of shifts calls for another briefing session. The team reports on the issues that need attention including detailing the locations of snap checks on the roads.

16:30 Max and Daniel reconvene on the case of the missing man. Max says that the last transaction from his Octopus card was from Sai Kung to Diamond Hill. Max and Daniel discuss the way forward, “We don’t want to leave anything left uninvestigated before giving up. Our officers are working around the clock,” says Daniel. There is a total of 100 officers from RPU and civil aid services on this case.

The last signal came from Wong Shek Pier. “We’ve already searched one third of the country park. All our officers in every shift are out there searching for him and it poses a great impact on our daily schedule,” says Daniel.

The RPU team has a physically demanding job. “It’s humid and it’s been raining so the roads become muddy and slippery. They really are the unsung heroes of Sai Kung.”

The case continues…

briefing17:00 The incoming shift starts to eat dinner at the canteen. There’s a lot of chatter. Even though the rain is pouring down, the next shift’s officers prepare to head out.

They routinely check the contents of their designated car and make sure everything is stocked before leaving.

18:00 The RPU team starts preparing for their visit to reported campsites of incense tree fellings.

“We usually have more success at night as they are in their deepest sleep but it’s more difficult to navigate and we have to be very quiet,” says Kam Sir.

19:00 Daniel heads back to his office to write reports. He tells me report writing takes up a lot of his time and that he has a handful to write including reports on cases, inspector appraisals, probationary reports and more. I ask how many he’s written today. With a slight smile on his face, he says, “one and a half”.

20:00 Sai Kung police officers receive a call from Tseung Kwan O police that the missing girl has been located. She was found at the Tseung Kwan O minibus stop. She is uninjured and has returned home safe.

20:10 Canteen staff call for last orders before it closes. Max says the kitchen staff are lenient in closing later when they know some officers are still out on search and rescue missions.

21:00 Police officers are back from the search and rescue operation. However, they come back with no success on the case of the missing man.

female officer22:30 The next shift rolls in and prepares for the take over briefing.

23:30 Police officers head out to nearby restaurants to buy dinner. There aren’t too many options at this hour – it’s either a 24 hour Chinese restaurant or McDonalds.

02:00 A call comes in reporting complaint nuisance. The officer inputs details of the report.

04:00 The police station goes quiet again. There’s not a lot happening so I call it a day. My shift at Sai Kung Police Station is officially over.

For more information, contact Sai Kung Police Station, 1 Po Tung Road, Sai Kung, 3661 1630