The latest high-ranking reshuffles in key police units show how power plays, political connections and community relations can dictate promotions, a senior police source says.
Kamronwit: Has ‘absolute power’
The reshuffle, which took effect on Thursday, brought many senior officers, transferred under the previous Democrat Party-led government, back into the fold.
The changes involved police officers from the levels of deputy commanders down to that of inspectors-general.
The reshuffle was decided by the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang, who is close to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
"Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit has absolute power to select his close subordinates at the bureau," the source added.
"Even the national police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew cannot intervene."
In the past, the MPB reshuffle has often run into delays. However, this time Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit wrapped up the list faster than did commanders of other police units.
The source said the speedy processing of the reshuffle showed the bureau chief has absolute authority over the manpower changes in the MPB.
Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit, however, stoked public outcry when he admitted he has done well in his police career because of Thaksin, who was sentenced to two years in jail over the Ratchadaphisek land case in 2008 and has lived in self-exile abroad since.
Many officers promoted in the preceding Abhisit Vejjajiva administration have been replaced in the latest reshuffle.
Some officers given key posts include subordinates of Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit at the Provincial Police Region 1.
Among them, Pol Col Chayanont Meesati, deputy chief of Chai Nat provincial police, has been named deputy investigation commander of the MPB.
He swapped posts with Pol Col Nanthachart Supamongkol, who was promoted in the previous government.
Pol Col Chairit Anurit, the superintendent of the Rong Kwang station in Phrae, a province dominated by the Pheu Thai Party, is now superintendent of the MPB's Investigative Division 2.
Pol Lt Col Charoonkiat Pankaew, the deputy superintendent of the Children and Women Protection Sub-Division, who is close to Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit, becomes superintendent of Bangkok Police Sub-Division 2.
Pol Col Sa-nga Kanpirom, the investigation superintendent of Trat province, has returned as the investigation superintendent of Bangkok Police Sub-Division 4.
Pol Col Banjong Amarit, the superintendent of Bang Kruai police station in Nonthaburi, has been appointed investigation superintendent of Bangkok Police Sub-Division 5.
Pol Col Worapote Choocherd, the investigation superintendent of Pathum Thani police, is now investigation superintendent of Bangkok Police Sub-Division 6.
By contrast, fewer "politically linked" changes have taken place at the top in the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), according to some observers.
The bureau has been implementing community relations projects such as neighbourhood policing, which has helped bridge the gap between law enforcement officers and the people.
Some of the promotions have gone to the officers involved in the community policing programme under the direction of CIB commissioner Pongpat Chayaphan in the past two years.
Pol Lt Col Worawut Khunakasem, a deputy superintendent of the Crime Suppression Division's Sub-Division 5 who has pushed community policing since 2010, has been promoted to superintendent of the CSD's Sub-Division 3 overseeing the Northeast.
Pol Lt Col Worawut drafted the community policing guidelines.
Pol Lt Col Phukarawik Chotikasathien, a deputy superintendent of the CSD's Special Operations Sub-Division who implemented community policing in the Wat Kae Sam Sen community, has risen to the post of superintendent of the CSD's General Staff Section 1 supervising the CIB workforce.
Pol Lt Col Natthapong Trongthiang, an inspector-general of the CSD's Sub-Division 2 who has implemented anti-crime campaigns in expatriate communities in Pattaya, is now deputy superintendent of the CSD's Sub-Division 3.
Pol Lt Gen Pongpat conceded the community policing project formed an important criteria for promoting officers.
He said many countries, including Japan, Singapore and Canada, have launched community policing schemes which reduced crime and drug use.
It was time for police to not only enforce the laws but also acquire community relations skills in dealing with people, Pol Lt Gen Pongpat said.
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- Writer: Wassayos Ngamkham