An online picture posted of an armed officer on the first night of curfew checkpoints near Pakkred in Nonthaburi caused online commentary and appears to have spooked members of the public. Police have responded by pointing out that all curfew checkpoints are carried out in accordance with international standards.
Top brass including the National Police Commissioner General Suwat Jangyodsuk at the Royal Thai Police have responded in recent days to concerns raised online by Thai citizens about the operation of police checkpoints in Bangkok and adjacent provinces linked with the current emergency which has seen a night time curfew imposed between 9 pm and 4 am daily. Senior officers are making it clear that the police checkpoints are being operated to international standards of best practice and have invited members of the public to report any concerns by calling the police hotline number.
The National Police Commissioner, General Suwat Jangyodsuk, has appointed a senior officer to visit, inspect and raise morale among police officers assigned to checkpoints which have been set up in curfew areas including Bangkok and adjacent provinces since July 12th and which are scheduled to be in operation for two weeks until July 26th next.
The curfew is in place from 9 pm each night until 4 am in the morning.
Spokesman briefs the public on checkpoints
Royal Thai Police spokesman Police Major General Yingyot Thepjamnong briefed the media on Thursday when he vigorously defended the conduct of such operations.
He pointed out that they were the result of orders which were signed on July 10th last and specified a standard approach to ensure that all checkpoints in the targeted region were conducted according to best practice including having video evidence of stops, proper lighting, signage and protocols for officers to follow.
He revealed that the previous night up to 95 people had been detained for being outside their home dwellings without justification.
Checkpoint at Pakkred on the opening night of the curfew sparked public commentary over armed officer
The move came after controversy arose earlier in the week when photographs of an armed police officer on duty in Pakkred caused an outcry on social media which were subsequently firmly rebuffed by the Police Superintendent of Pakkred in Nonthaburi province.
The senior provincial officer explained that all police armed at such checkpoints are fully trained in the tactical use of such weapons and that such protection was needed for nighttime checkpoints during a curfew which can present risky situations and a potential threat to officers on duty.
Officer with M4 rifle pictured near a temple on the Tiwanon Road near Pakkred entirely appropriate
The photograph of the police officer armed with an M4 rifle on duty is believed to have been taken on the first night of curfew operations on July 12th at a checkpoint near the entrance to Wat Pho Thong on the Tiwanon Road in the Pakkred district of Nonthaburi.
On July 13th, the Royal Thai Police responded to online comments by first explaining that the police officer was acting entirely in line with proper protocols and procedures.
He was attending the checkpoint as a support and protection officer for colleagues conducting the stops at the checkpoint.
Police chief fully defends the operation, the officer was fully trained and providing support to colleagues
The operation was vigorously defended by local station chief, Police Colonel Pongchak Preechakarunpong, who pointed out that the firearm held by the policeman was a government weapon.
As well as the fact that he was fully trained in its use, the checkpoint itself was under the command of a senior officer with oversight of the checkpoint’s activities in accordance with clearly defined police tactics and procedures.
On Thursday, senior Royal Thai Police spokesman, Police Major General Yingyot, assured the public that the police operations were there to assist and protect them.
He insisted any member of the public with a complaint or any information of wrongdoing during the current pandemic emergency, should feel free to contact the police hotlines open 24 hours a day.