SAFETY AND TACTICAL SHOOTING CLUB OF THAILAND
Police work is proving popular with public
The rising crime rate in Bangkok is seen as responsible for the strong interest in the Crime Suppression Division's new police assistant training course.
Civilians are taught howto use a gun in a special course introduced by the Crime Suppression Division to train volunteers. SURAPOL PROMSAKANASAKOLNAKORN
The course provides volunteers with a day of training intended to place them in a much better position to deal with a criminal should they ever meet one.
And the police benefit by having trained civilian volunteers to help them reduce the crime rate.
About 100 people have applied for the training course.
Chiewvit Sriwichien, chief of the CSD's Operations Command 1, explained the advantages of the volunteer scheme.
"I believe that civilians are actually the first to reach the crime scene when a crime takes place, yet the truth is that many of those untrained people who bravely try to help a victim end up getting killed," he said.
That is why the division has come up with the programme, said Pol Lt Col Chiewvit, who heads it.
Criminals are more active during times of economic hardship, so people need to be more alert, he said.
Expanding urbanisation, population growth and the competition for space are also contributing to the problem, as they make it even more difficult to keep the capital under surveillance and discourage criminal activity.
"Nowadays, it is important to train people to both protect themselves and help others," Pol Lt Col Chiewvit said.
The training is being offered with the help of the 105 Unit Club, a private association focusing on weapons use and self-defence.
The first batch of about 80 civilians were trained at the end of May. They were selected from areas where there is a lot of criminal activity.
If the programme proves a success, it will be expanded to other parts of Bangkok.
The civilians receive a day of intensive training. They are given basic knowledge about the law and how to assist the police.
They are also trained to use a gun and subdue a criminal suspect on their own without being killed or injured in the process.
"Some may believe a civilian is not authorised to arrest a criminal suspect, but the law does not completely prohibit a civilian from doing this," Pol Lt Col Chiewvit said.
"If it is an order from the authorities, they can [act]. Even without such an order, if a criminal act involves a rape, theft or riot right before your eyes, you can arrest the wrongdoer.
"I have a feeling that many people want to help but if they are not properly trained, it can be too risky. But with a sufficient amount of training, the risk can be minimised."
Supajira Wattanakosol, a 29-year-old television reporter on a crime beat, said she had gained more confidence in using a gun after fine-tuning her shooting skills under the programme. "I'm proud of myself being part of this programme," Ms Supajira said. "Now I can go out and cover crime stories without having to worry too much about my safety. On top of that, I can help the police."
Sarutipong Srinitirat, 42, owner of a used car dealership, said the training meant a lot more to him than just a chance to do volunteer work. He could also protect himself.
Several of his friends in the same business have fallen prey to criminals.
He now feels more secure when going to buy a car if he has cash in his briefcase.