This is the continuation of the exclusive interview at thai-blogs.com with a Thai policeman. Please click here if you haven’t read part one.
How many days off a week/month do you get?
None. If we want a day off then we have to swap shifts with a colleague. A shift is 8 hours, any time of the day, so if we swap shifts that means we have to work 16 hours straight. We are though, allowed ‘leave’ but for this we have to ask our boss and give him a good excuse.
How difficult is it, as a cop, to keep a ‘cool heart’?
Very. We get called into deal with drunkards a lot and that is difficult. Often, they get angry or even start to throw punches or throw things at us.
What rights do you have for carrying a gun?
At all times. In theory, a police officer is never ‘off duty’, if he sees a crime at anytime he must deal with it. In our spare time, dressed in casual clothes, we should still carry our guns but they ought to be concealed under our shirts etc…. That is the regulation.
When does a police officer have the right to shoot?
Only if the suspect is carrying a weapon and shoots at us first. We are only allowed to fire once. If an average suspect turns around and tries to run away, I can only chase him.
Do Thai police have taser guns?
Very few and only in Bangkok, but as they are very dangerous, they are only used in the case of say a hostage crisis.
Have you ever shot or/and killed anyone?
When you become a policeman, do you have to take any kind of oath?
Yes, with witnesses around, we have to plead allegiance in front of a portrait of the King and swear the Holy Trinity of ‘Nation’, ‘Religion’ & ‘Monarchy’.
In your opinion, how do the general public view Thai police?
Mostly positive. The people who don’t like the cops are usually the ones who often break the law themselves, like carrying drugs, gambling or committing driving offenses etc…
Driving offenses – don’t they have to do with the traffic police?
A police officer is a police officer. It is our duty to crack down on any kind of criminal even if that suspect is involved in another branch of crime which is not directly related to ours.
How old must an individual be before you can lock him up in a police cell?
14. Older than that but under 18, they are then sent to a Youth Detention Centre.
A friend would like ask; is it possible to hire a police officer to be a bodyguard, escort a private car or even collect debts?
Yes. If you wanted me to be your bodyguard then I can certainly be so, but only in my own spare time. Otherwise, same goes for escorting cars, you would have to contact the police station superintendent with good reasons. A fee needs to be paid too.
As for collecting debts, that is none of my business. In such a situation, I could only go and explain the law to the one who owes the money. That is a matter for the judge to decide not the police.
What about female police officers, what is their role?
Mostly administration, they just sit in the office like at Immigration signing this and that and keying in data on their computer. There are a lot of female cops though in the police hospitals, many work as nurses and doctors. You will also find that a lot of the older ones also hold a high rank, such as Major or even Colonel.
Do you like your uniform? Don’t you find it a bit tight! I read that they are going to bring in a new ‘cool’ looking one. Are you glad about that?
I like my current uniform. As for the idea about bringing in a new uniform, I have seen the pictures of it and I don’t like it, it looks silly. The uniform is a bit tight but not as tight as what you might think. You see (he shows me) the buttons aren’t real, they are fake – there is only a shirt zip – the fake buttons are only there to make the thing look tight. It’s like an optical illusion.
What type of criminals do you detest the most?
I really hate the influential ones with their big connections. They are often high ranking individuals who deal in drugs or something like that. I can do nothing to arrest them as I have ‘no evidence’. If I see an old one in a restaurant surrounded by lots of pretty girls, I know he is scum, but I can only look on. If I say anything, then me myself will get into trouble – the guy has big money and big friends, often politicians.
Have you ever though, arrested any ‘big shots’ or Hi-So teenagers etc..?
Sure, but they aren’t as big as the ones I just mentioned. A couple of months ago, I pulled over some teenagers for a driving offense – six on a motorbike and drunk. The driver was the son of a high ranking person. When I stopped him he said
“Do you know who my dad is?” I replied “No”.
Next, he was on the phone to his dad and asked me to talk to him. I completely refused and just arrested him. I told him to tell his dad to come to the police station.
Recently, I also arrested a nephew of the former provincial police chief for a similar offense.
What type of suspect, if any, do you take pity upon?
I feel really sorry for many girls who get arrested alongside their boyfriends who are carrying drugs. Often, the girl doesn’t know that her boyfriend is shifting drugs, she is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, when we call him over to do a search. Most of the time, the girls are finally let off ‘Scot-free’ but at first, I have to arrest them too.
I also take pity on teenage boys who get charged for under-age sex, I mean I used to be a teenager myself. I had to arrest one young boy lately who was 18, but his girlfriend was just 14. The father of the girl was a teacher and it was him who called the station and filed the charge. When we arrested the boy (in the girl’s bedroom) and took him down the station, his girlfriend was throwing a frenzy; screaming and kicking, she was even kicking and punching her dad. On that day, I didn’t blame the boy, I really blamed the father – he was obnoxious. The boy was finally sentenced and sent to prison.
Interesting. Can you tell us anymore interesting times as a police officer?
Of course. I’ll start with this one. Last year I was ‘off duty’ in plain clothing and went to have a noodle soup at a shop which also sold beer. When I was there some guy called me over and offered me a beer, since he was paying like, I agreed to join him. He asked me what I did for a living and I explained that I was a cop. Anyway, after half an hour or so, this guy was obviously getting seriously drunk and suddenly started getting really mouthy. He was shouting things to me like “You are not a f**king cop, you f**king wa*ker”. I got up and went to the toilet. When I came out and was walking to my bike outside, he smacked me on the back of my head with a beer bottle. He went back to his table and just carried on drinking!
So, I called in the police and he was arrested. In the morning, behind bars, he was full of bruise marks. Supposedly, the night before in the cell, he had been swearing and making trouble with the other inmates and got into some fights!
When the lieutenant called me over to face him, the guy claimed that he couldn’t remember me, in fact he reckoned he couldn’t remember the slightest about the night before!
I can clearly remember the time too a few years ago when I was just signing in. In came to the station this old scruffy looking guy who just planted himself down in front of my desk. Right in front of me he lit up a big Ganja joint and placed a big bag of it on my desk. Then he said “Please arrest me”. It had came to light, that the guy had just been released from prison after having been there for 15 or so years. He had nowhere to go – no money, no food. He simply wanted to go back to prison. I didn’t arrest him but called in a member of a local charity organization for the poor. I also gave him 100 baht.
A colleague of mine also told me of another similar case where a ‘tom-boy’ committed a crime directly in front of him as she wanted to go back to prison; she missed her lover.
A short while back, my colleague and I were called in by some villagers about a monk from their local temple. So, when we arrived, thinking that perhaps the monk was taking drugs or something, we were lead up to the top of a house. Instead, there in the woods, was a monk with his robes off having it off with a nun. We had to explain to the villagers of course that we as cops could nothing about this except contact the temple abbot.
In fact, us police are constantly called in to deal with matters that have nothing whatsoever to do with the police. Like problems about minor wives, child maintenance, divorce and debts etc…. These kinds of issues can only be settled in court.
Thank you very much for your time.