A top cop

Having banked invaluable international experience in law-enforcement, Pol Lt Col Peabprom Mekhiyanont has brought her concern for victims back home

Pol Lt Col Peabprom Mekhiyanont. Photos courtesy of Pol Lt Col Peabprom Mekhiyanont

Behind the tough, fiery exterior of Pol Lt Col Peabprom Mekhiyanont lies the gentle and sympathetic heart of a 40-year-old female police investigator determined to help vulnerable victims find solace.

The youngest of three children, Peabprom is an inspector at the Investigation and Inquiry Affairs Department and owner of two chatbot projects -- Police Noi and Sis Bot -- which provide information to survivors of rape and physical and emotional abuse 24 hours a day through Facebook Messenger, accessible through mobile device or computer.

Peabprom is very clear on the fact that she is a human-rights advocate who is concerned about the hierarchy system she is in. She encourages her juniors to speak their mind, telling them: "There is nothing insubordinate about sharing your thoughts on an issue. It should be encouraged to build the person's self esteem.''

Constantly on the lookout for methods to better address issues pertaining to women and human rights, Peabprom, who has worked in the police force for 12 years, thanks her two-year stint as UN police officer in South Sudan and Haiti, and a year as human-trafficking case worker with World Vision, for building compassion in her for the work she does today.

"I might come across as loud and boisterous but the reality is that I am a very sympathetic person," remarked Peabprom. "When I was working as a case worker I found that oftentimes the police were of little help to the victims, and that really bothered me. My heart went out to the human-trafficking victims and I used to often wonder what eventually happened to them.

"That is when I entertained the idea of not just becoming a police officer but working in investigation.''

Her direct involvement in police work made her all the more aware of the fact that violence against women in Thailand is on the rise annually.

When she was a junior police officer she often found herself at a loss for words when female victims of domestic abuse and rape came to report what had happened to them. It was then that she made up her mind to do something about it. The fruit of that labour produced both Police Noi and Sis Bot.

Her resolve to continue addressing gender bias in the legal system continues in her work as a lecturer at the police academy.

Peabprom is also tasked with preparing new police cadets to enter the force. courtesy of pol. lt. col. Peabprom Mekhiyanont

To better understand what makes Peabprom stand out from the rest of her colleagues, one has to go back to her family upbringing.

"I was brought up in a family where my mother, a nurse, had to work seven days a week to financially support my two older siblings and myself, as my father was a failure in business, and so the financial burden was put on her shoulders," said the Bangkok native.

"Needless to say, it was my mother who had a big impact on my life. I believe my gung-ho, overconfident personality stems from my difficult childhood. I suppose I have nothing to lose, so I speak my mind."

The policewoman said that prior to her interest in law-enforcement, she wanted to become a prosecutor. It was while waiting to sit the exam that, acting on impulse, she decided to enrol in the police academy, and the rest is history.

"When I became a police officer, I was pretty arrogant, stemming from my belief that working in law-enforcement was a passing phase. My goal in life was to become a prosecutor. This is why the time I spent as a UN police officer impacted the direction my career. I came back more focused and determined to make a difference in society."

Peabprom's experience working as a UN police officer played a vital part in her ability to develop a mindset that she could do anything a man could.

"Among many firsts, I learned to drive manual in some of the most fierce terrains found in war-torn South Sudan. This was a great accomplishment because I was hesitant to undertake this endeavour at first, thinking that as a woman I wouldn't be able to succeed.

"I was inspired to break away from the stereotypical image of Thai women when I heard a speech by a female UN envoy who stressed how women and men are equal and the need for women to follow their dreams."

Peabprom said she desires to see more Thai women believe in their abilities to accomplish their heart's desire, and "not fall for the popular belief that a woman requires a man in her life to complete her".

Confidence, she said, comes from developing one's skills. Sharing an example from her time in South Sudan, she described the jitters she felt when she was assigned to train Sudanese police officers.

"I felt butterflies in my stomach at the thought of having to speak in English in front of a class, because I lack confidence in speaking English. However, I had to get over my fears and I eventually did.

"My experience with the UN police really transformed me, offering me the chance to become what I am today: a confident woman who believes in herself."