Thailand’s new police chief makes drugs and road safety a top priority

Despite only having one year to serve, Thailand’s new police chief is ambitiously making drugs and road safety a top priority during his term. Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the 13th national police chief, assumed office at the beginning of this month. According to Bangkok Post, he replaced Suwat Jongyodsuk who retired on September 30. But, his plans to tackle road safety and drugs haven’t been dampened by his short term. His previous successors served for five years and two years but Damrongsak says he is positive about using his 200,000 officers to carry out his plans.

Damrongsak was born in the northern province of Phrae and said he initially didn’t want to be a civil servant. But, his career path changed after his friend’s father brought him an application form for the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory school. He applied and passed the examination. He said upon seeing the air force uniforms, his passion grew.

His short-sightedness deterred him from joining the air force so he enrolled in the Royal Police Cadet Academy. After graduating, he started as deputy chief of investigations at a police station in Bangkok. Later, he earned a master’s degree in public administration in the US, before completing a crowd control course at Tacoma Police Department in Washington state. He also participated in the Pacific Training Initiative of the US FBI.

Afterwards, he returned to Thailand and served in a variety of deputy chief roles before he became Amnat Charoen’s police commissioner. Later, he became commissioner of a provincial region that covered the lower northeastern provinces. During that stint, he started anti-drug programmes in almost 1,500 villages. His programme earned him national recognition and an award from the Narcotics Control Board.

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He also created a project to curb road accidents in eight provinces in the northeast. That programme was then adopted by local government organisations nationwide.

“If we want to curb the number of road accidents, we have to gather data to analyse the causes. That way we can propose funds to pay officers who work overtime trying to develop the database.”

Damrongsak says road accident data points toward road deaths taking place in places where the people are not residents of the areas.

“I would like to improve the police force to become a reliable organisation that people can trust.”

He reiterated that officers have to spend time familiarising themselves with villagers and show commitment to solving drug problems in the long term.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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