Yet, during his first meeting with key city police officers recently, the acting city police chief opted not to immediately announce his policies. He merely picked some police tasks to highlight his goals.
“I need time to study all aspects of city police jobs,” Lt Gen Sutthipong said, adding his current policy is to follow his predecessor Lt Gen Charnthep Sesaves and earn more points from serving people.
Lt Gen Sutthipong said he always gives weight to security issues, but since he is still awaiting formal endorsement, feels it is not necessary to rush to introduce new things.
At the start of his new role, the former chief of the Immigration Bureau wants first to see every city police officer make a contribution by doing their duty, especially where contact is required with the public.
Police officers must always speak and behave politely when people come to complain at police stations, he said.
This should be the case in all situations even when complaints are lodged at wrong stations lacking the proper jurisdiction, Lt Gen Sutthipong stressed.
Approaching complaints from the view of a service provider, police officers should give priority to what people are feeling rather than focus solely on the areas that fall under their jurisdiction.
“When people are satisfied, things will not proceed in an unwanted way” Lt Gen Sutthipong said, adding that any move to bluntly reject a complaint, based on the argument that is is not within the station’s direct responsibility, would no longer be acceptable.
If officers do so, “they are likely to spark an issue with people”, he said.
Attaining such service standards may sound strange but Lt Gen Sutthipong said it would not be too difficult for city police to adapt to their new roles if they cooperate.
This demand reflects the new chief’s personality. He is known to be devoted to his work and, as a result, wants to see all his officers undertake their duties in a serious manner.
During his meeting with city police commanders, he told them to relay his directives to their subordinates seriously because, “I don’t want to have to keep calling them”, he said.
Lt Gen Sutthipong said if he finds out that officers have refused to accept people’s complaints, he will call them and demand to know why.
“I want to see everyone give their utmost help,” he said. “Their police station may not be the most beautiful of places, but they have to provide a good service.”
He said he has randomly inspected several police stations including Bang Chan, Bung Kum and Lumpini.
Another service Lt Gen Sutthipong wanted to emphasise is the work officers do on the streets, particularly how they deal with motorists.
He said he has instructed traffic police to work harder to better manage congested roads as the situation is expected to be exacerbated by new road and electric railway projects in the capital.
He said he was aware traffic police have to endure bad weather and work in polluted conditions and that they would receive his support in improving their lot.
However, they must work harder to take care of motorists and be equipped with everything they need to do the job well, he added.
Regarding police checkpoints, which often draw criticism as being little more than a method by which rogue officers can demand bribes from the public, he said some should remain in place.
“Personally I don’t agree with setting up checkpoints, but this doesn’t mean I’ll ban them all.”
He also stressed the importance of drink driving checks. That is a key part of the government’s efforts to reduce road accidents. Thailand has one of the world’s worst road safety records.
Lt Gen Sutthipong also warned officers not to succumb to the temptation to take bribes as they will be held accountable later on.
He described himself as strict but approachable. “I speak loudly but I don’t bite,” he said.
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