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Opinion: Phuket Tourist Police should be your first call

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Maj Urumporn Koondejsumrit has been chief of the Tourist Police since 2012. He earned a master’s degree in science in criminal justice for leadership from Sam Houston State University in Texas before graduating from the Royal Police Cadet Academy.

Here, Maj Urumporn advises tourists to be alert in order to avoid becoming victims of a crime, and promises that Tourist Police and their volunteers will do their best to protect them.

PHUKET: No one can predict when or if they will become a victim of a crime. However, we can protect ourselves by not giving potential offenders the opportunity to take advantage of us.

There are three factors that lead to a criminal act occurring. We call this the crime triangle: The offender, the victim and the opportunity.

Do not put yourself in a situation where you are giving a potential offender the chance to commit a crime. When you are out with your friends at night, leave the club when your friends leave. Do not go out in the dark by yourself or walk home alone. You never know who could be waiting, and there is no way to know if a stranger on the street is a good person or a bad one.

It is always better to try to prevent a crime from happening, rather than picking up the pieces later. We want everyone who visits our island to be happy and enjoy their time here.

That said, the Tourist Police are here to help no matter what. We have three stations on the island: on the beach road near Soi Bangla in Patong, at the airport and our headquarters in Phuket Town.

Think of us as your first friend. You can call our 1155 hotline at any time if you need assistance. All calls to are directed to an office staffed by police 24 hours a day. We also have 31 foreign volunteers from 17 different countries, as well as 17 Thai volunteers.

Our volunteers speak several languages, including English, German, Spanish, Korean, French and Hindi. Soon, we will have Chinese-speaking volunteers too.

Though our volunteers take time out of their lives to help, they are not on duty all the time. We try to make sure that we have them around during normal office hours and keep their contact numbers at the ready at all times, if we require assistance outside of those times.

At night, Tourist Police and volunteers patrol Bangla Road and nearby areas in Patong, starting from 8:30pm and often staying out until 4am. Both police and volunteers are in uniform and easy to spot. I know tourists feel safer with us patrolling the area.

Along with volunteers, our Thai police officers always do their best to help tourists. Some of us work in the office, and others go out on patrol. Most of our officers can speak English, but not well. We try our best to facilitate communication with tourists. It is a challenge, but we want to make a good
impression on tourists so that they will come back to Phuket.

Please remember that if you are calling our hotline in distress our officers will do their best to understand what you are saying, but please speak clearly and slowly. If you have a Thai-speaking
person to help you, this will make the process easier and more efficient. The sooner we have clear information, the faster we can get an emergency team to you.

Despite currently facing a shortage of officers – we only have 40 Tourist Police officers on the island – we will not back down from our duties.

So that tourists can find and contact us easily, we have posters and stickers displayed at the airport and at various spots on the island advertising our hotline.

We also launched the Tourist Buddy smartphone app in 2012, available in English and Thai. This has not been as popular as we had hoped, so we also focus on promoting our Tourist Police Facebook page and Tourist Police Volunteer Facebook page.

Please make us your first point of call if you are in trouble. We will assist you any way we can.

 

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