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Art and science of police investigation

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Retiring police general and top investigator Aswin Kwanmuang shares his life's experience in a new book. 

police book

In the photo above, a police officer shows the new book entitled Tamnan Naksuep Satai Aswin (Aswin’s investigation guide) to be distributed to police detectives countrywide to sharpen their investigation skills (Photo by WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM). 

Click button to listen to Police Investigation Book to download

Crimes: Aswin stands up for old-style police, Retiring investigator pens guide urging officers to strive for common touch by Wassayos Ngamkham


Colourful and controversial police investigator Aswin Kwanmuang fears officers like him may be going the way of the dinosaur

As policing enters the modern age of CCTV, mini cameras, the internet and DNA-inspired forensics, Pol Gen Aswin is seeing fewer young officers taking up traditional methods of investigation.

Pol Gen Aswin, the adviser for the Royal Thai Police Office, is among the many senior officers who will retire at the end of September. He has less than two months left to bid farewell to his colleagues in police investigation, where he made a name for himself after some dubious incidents which left a trail of bodies and public outcries of police brutality and extra-judicial killings.

As he was preparing his farewells, Pol Gen Aswin floated the idea of passing on his decades-long experience of traditional investigation methods to the younger generation of police

Pol Gen Aswin, whose investigative skills are well documented, agreed he should write a book to guide young officers.

The book is named Tamnan Naksuep Satai Aswin (Aswin's investigation guide) which will be published for distribution among police soon. Pol Gen Aswin and other officers will travel around the country to meet readers and promote the book.

"I'm confident the book will work with junior police," he said. "My hope is only to share my experiences with them and urge them into action.

In March, Pol Gen Aswin and key investigators met in Pattaya to discuss the book project. The book started to take shape through brainstorming.

"Investigation is both science and art," Pol Gen Aswin said.

New technologies such as footage from security cameras and mobile phones are increasingly important for tracking down criminal suspects. However, traditional investigation involving factors like an officer's relationship with villagers and informants has not lost its value

Investigation is not strategic work usually carried out by crime protection and suppression police.

"It is, Pol Gen Aswin insisted, "the art of winning over people's hearts and evidence gathering". Without ideas to approach people for information or the knowledge of how to find clues, investigators can only end up failing.

Pol Gen Aswin said the book does not serve as an academic textbook. It only suggests guidelines for would-be investigators who can apply rules and tips they see are most fitting for themselves.

Case studies of major criminal cases are a highlight of the book, added Chatchai Rianmek, deputy chief of the investigation division of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

They include the rape and murder of 21-year-old Welsh student Katherine Horton in Koh Samui in Surat Thani in 2006, a crackdown on a drug gang in Paikiew community in Ayutthaya's Bang Pa-in district last year, a rocket-propelled grenade attack near the Defence Ministry last year and the thrower of bags of excrement and fermented fish into the house of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also last year, said Pol Col Chatchai, who helped Pol Gen Aswin oversee the guide book.

Pol Col Chatchai said other instructions and experience of senior police investigators are also compiled in the book's five chapters. The book begins with the understanding of modern crimes. It is followed by advice on how to begin an investigation, by analysing evidence.

Next, readers will be taught how to use special tools to help their investigation. The book also includes precautions which investigators need to know, and explains ways to work with agencies dealing with criminal cases.

Pol Gen Aswin added another important thing - a love for the job.

"If you don't have a heart for investigation, you will not want to work in this field. Investigation is exhausting work," he said.

But while the old-style investigators may be declining, the number of technically skilled officers is expected to increase. Pol Col Chatchai has set a target of having more professional investigators within one to three years, following the Royal Thai Police Office's latest attempt to develop the investigation unit.

Among its tools to achieve the goal is Tamnan Naksuep Satai Aswin, he said.

Pol Gen Aswin hoped the book would spark an interest by police in the field. "In the future, they will be as proud as me," he said. "If you ask me what I have gained from the job, I'll smile to myself and say 'I can do it'; it's pride

Contact Crime Track: crimetrack@bangkokpost.co.th

(Source: Bangkok Post, Crimes, Aswin stands up for old-style police, Retiring investigator pens guide urging officers to strive for common touch, 15/08/2011, Wassayos Ngamkham, link


Law enforcement vocabulary

law enforcement - policing activities, what the police do: arresting people who break the law, enforcing the law, protecting property and reducing civil disorder, powers that sometimes include the use of force (See Wikipedia)

officer -
same as "police officer"  
police officer -
a police man or police woman, employee of a police force, have to job of finding criminals, the "prevention and detection of crime, and the maintenance of public order... have the power to arrest people and detain them for a limited time" (See Wikipedia) นักสืบ

rape - the crime of forcefully having sex with someone against their wish การข่มขืน
murder - the crime of intentionally killing a person ฆาตกรรม
crackdown - strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่ strong official action to punish lawbreakers การปราบปรามขั้นเด็ดขาด

detective - a person whose job is to find out what happened in a crime and who was involved in the crime (See Wikipedia)

investigation
- try to find out what happened during an event, discovering the truth about an event, who or what caused it or how it happened การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง, การสอบสวน

skills - a type of work or task requiring special training and knowledge ทักษะ ความสามารถเฉพาะทาง
sharpening their investigation skills - improving their investigation skills

traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
taking up traditional methods of investigation - starting to use (or study a subject aiming to use it in the future)

have a heart for investigation - really like and enjoy the activity of investigation

investigator
- someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something, especially a crime or accident ตำรวจฝ่ายสอบสวนคดีอาชญากรรม
would-be investigators -
people who might become investigators in the future

key
- important คนสำคัญ
key investigators - important investigators

investigative
- involving the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened เกี่ยวกับการสืบสวน, เกี่ยวกับการตรวจสอบหาความจริง

evidence
- facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime หลักฐาน
clues - an object or fact that someone discovers that helps them solve a crime or mystery ร่องรอย

approach people for information - go to people, visit people (to ask questions and get information)
informants - people who give the police information (which they use to solve crimes)

suspects - people who may have committed the crime, identified by the police ผู้ต้องสงสัย
tracking down criminal suspects - searching for criminal suspects (finding where they are, their location)

forensics - scientific methods used to solve crimes and find out who committed them (See Wikipedia)

DNA -
the most important chemical in genetics, in forming the "genes" that are passed from parent to child and from which the proteins of our body are built, used as a sort of unique "fingerprint" to identify people in police "forensics"  (See Wikipedia)

X inspired Y - the source of Y is X  
DNA-inspired forensics - scientific methods to solve crimes that have their origin or source in DNA and genetic technologies

CCTV - closed-circuit TV cameras, cameras that record what is happening in a place, can be replayed if there is a crime to see what happened (See Wikipedia)
security - the activity of making safe or protecting from harm
security cameras - cameras put in a store or public place to record criminal activity (if it happens)

brutality
- cruel and violent treatment of other people
police brutality -
when police use cruel and violent methods to enforce the law, "intentional use of excessive force" by the police (See Wikipedia)

extrajudicial killing - when people are killed without trial by the government, by soldiers or police, for example (See Wikipedia)

General Vocabulary


stand up for -
defend

entitled ... - a book having a title ...

pens a guide -
writes a guidebook

retire - to stop playing a sport as a professional or serious player because you are too old or no longer have the desire อำลาวงการ

distributed
- made available to customers through stores and middlemen

strive - to try very hard to do something or to make something happen, especially for a long time or against difficulties พยายามอย่างหนัก
common - shared, used by many people; done or shared by two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน
strive for common touch - try hard for many people to do thing the same way (here: according to high standards of police investigation)

colourful -
a person who behaves in an interesting and amusing way
controversial - causing disagreement or disapproval ความขัดแย้ง, ความไม่ลงรอยกัน

modern - new (and involving the latest technology and equipment)
modern age - the current period of time (with advanced technology and equipment) 

farewell - goodbye
bid farewell  - to say goodbye to people 

colleagues
- people who you work with

made a name for himself -
became famous and well-known
dubious - questionable, thought not to be completely true or not able to be trusted อย่างสงสัย

incidents
- events which are either unpleasant or unusual เหตุการณ์
trail - the places where someone has gone ร่องรอยที่ทิ้งไว้ให้ตามได้

public outcries -
when many people complain loudly about something bad that happened

floated the idea - to talk about an idea with people (before actually putting into action)
decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี

generation - a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
younger generation - young people

well documented -
there are a lot of things (evidence) to show that it is true (such as news articles and other records of his activities and achievements) 
distribution - giving something to all the people in a group, giving or delivering things to many people การจำหน่ายออกไป

promote
- to move someone to a job at a higher level เลื่อนตำแหน่ง
confident - being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future มั่นใจ

share
my experiences - tell people about all your experiences in an area (so they can learn and get this experience second-hand)
urge - try hard to get someone to do something, persuade someone to do something วิงวอน ย้ำเตือน

book started to take shape - what the author would include in the book  became more clear
brainstorming - try to solve a problem by thinking intensely about it (See Wikipedia)

footage - a film or video of a particular subject or event การเสนอข่าว,  ฟิลม์หรือคลิปภาพยนตร์ หรือวิดีโอ

factors - one of the things that effects a situation or event ปัจจัย

strategic
- done with a special plan to achieve long term goals

suppression
- stopping an activity from happening, in this case, illegal criminal activity การปราบปราม
insisted - say firmly that something must happen or is true, and will not change mind

academic - 1. related to teaching at a college or university; 2. someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job นักวิชาการ
academic textbook - a book used to teach students in a school (includes exercises for homework and well-defined ideas and problems for tests)

guidelines
- directions and instructions on how to do something; useful rules to help guide action แนวทาง นโยบาย

tip -
information about how to do something, practical advice

apply
- to make use of something นำมาใช้
apply rules and tips - make use of rules and tips

fitting
- suitable for a particular situation; appropriate อย่างสมพระเกียรติ
highlight - the most exciting, impressive, or interesting part จุดสำคัญ เรียกทับศัพท์ว่า ไฮไลท์; เน้น ย้ำความสำคัญ

deputy
- a person who is given the power to do something instead of another person, or the person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง, ตัวแทน,ผู้รักษาการแทน
division - one part of a large organisation

community
- local people, all the people who live in a local area or place ชุมชน

grenade - a small bomb that someone throws or fires from a gun ระเิบิดลูกเล็ก  ลูกระเบิดเล็ก
rocket-propelled grenade - a grenade shot from a special gun held by a soldier

excrement - human waste from the backside (feces, stool), polite scientifically accurate word like: อุจจาระ (See also informal: ขี้, มูล)

fermented - changed chemically through the action of living substances, such as yeast or bacteria หมัก
fermented fish - fermented fish sauce, popular in Northeastern Thai cuisine, "made by pickling several varieties of fish, mainly Snakehead Murrel (Channa striata) and herring. The fish is cleaned and cut into pieces, after which it is mixed with salt and rice bran. The whole is then left in a big jar covered with a wooden lid, to ferment for three months to a year, Pla ra sauce is often added to som tam (See Wikipedia) ปลาร้า,  ชื่ออาหารชนิดหนึ่งทำด้วยปลาหมักเกลือ, ปลาหมัก

oversee - manage, check to see if project is going ok จัดการ ดูแล to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly คุมงาน,ควบคุม

compiled - bring together pieces of information in one place
precautions - things done to protect people or things against possible harm or trouble การป้องกันไว้ก่อน

field
- to use a person as your representative ส่งต้วแทน

work in this field -
work in this job requiring special skills

exhausting work - tiring work

declining - worsening
technically skilled - know how to use the latest technology (so you can do your work more effectively)

expected
- believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
target - a goal; the amount you are planning to achieve เป้าหมาย

spark - to cause something to happen ก่อให้เกิด
spark an interest - create an interest in some subject or topic (so that a person will be motivated to go on and study more by themselves)

pride
- a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that you get when you, or someone connected with you, have achieved something special ความภาคภูมิใจ

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