PHUKET CITY: Six months after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for improvements to police practices nationwide, the Commander of Police Region 8 (which includes Phuket) says he is satisfied with the progress the region’s police have made in their efforts to reform themselves an d improve their public image. Pol Lt Gen Somsak Buppasuwan, Surat Thani-based commander of Police Region 8, told the Gazette today that results of a survey by a university research team indicate that the necessary improvements are being made in Region 8. “The results are divided into two parts, the first being police officers’ understanding of the required reforms and the second being the public’s perception of the extent to which reforms have been achieved “The initial evaluation showed that police comprehension of our vision for re-engineering police operations is satisfactory, though only 60% of the officers understand our vision, which is less than the 70% we had targeted [by this time]. “But this is just the beginning of the reforms and it takes time to change people’s behavior. We still have a year and a half to improve them.” As for public perception, he said, the research showed that the majority of people agree that the police have “re-engineered” themselves, with more than 70% of respondents saying they are satisfied with what the officers have achieved. Referring to the faltering investigation into the murder of Pongtorn Hiranyaburana – the Deputy Chief of the Phuket Land Office who was shot dead on April 25 last year after he was ordered to check land titles – Gen Somsak said that although the murder had been committed long before he was appointed Commander of Police Region 8, investigators are still following the case. “We still lack clear enough evidence to take action,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to set a date when the officers will solve the case because setting a deadline may result in mistakes in the investigation. “But the officers certainly will not ignore this case.” Gen Somsak was in Phuket to preside over the installation of a new spirit house and a small container of “prosperous soil” in the base of the new flagpole at the Phuket City Police Station.
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