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Role reflections of police reservists: a study of volunteer reserve officers in Malaysia

Phaik Kin Cheah (Department of Public Relations, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar, Malaysia)
N. Prabha Unnithan (Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)
Suresh Suppiah (Royal Malaysia Police, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 24 May 2018

Issue publication date: 17 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the work roles of the Royal Malaysia Police Volunteer Reserve officers.


A grounded theory approach was utilized for the generation and analysis of the data. Data were collected through interviews, observations and follow-ups. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 male and female volunteer reserve officers and 5 regular police officers aged between 24 and 58 years of mixed socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities and ranking in the Royal Malaysia Police force. Two civilian respondents (spouses of the Police Volunteer Reserve officers) were also interviewed for this study for the purpose of theory sampling.


The data were analyzed qualitatively resulting in a model of Royal Malaysia Police Volunteer Reserve officer roles consisting of four orientations.

Research limitations/implications

Study outcomes are discussed theoretically and administratively. The four role orientations identified will assist researchers studying police reserve volunteerism.

Practical implications

Study outcomes allow administrators to utilize and deploy police reservists in consonance with the four role orientations identified.

Social implications

This study provides insight into how police reservists conceive of and execute their roles as they negotiate them in relation to the regular police officers they work with and the public from which they are drawn.


This is the first study of police volunteerism in Malaysia.



The authors are grateful to Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman for funding this project through the UTAR Research Fund. The authors thank Chia Yi Jing, Crystal See Cze Yearn, Lim Chung Wee, Melody Leong Wai Lok and Yee Wai Ying who helped in data collection through the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Undergraduate Research Scheme. The authors are also grateful to Chang Tiam Chau, Yong Chin Kuen and all the respondents for their contributions.


Cheah, P.K., Unnithan, N.P. and Suppiah, S. (2018), "Role reflections of police reservists: a study of volunteer reserve officers in Malaysia", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 813-827.



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