Modernising the force

Modernising the force

New CIB chief to bring the police into the 21st century with plans for a 'digital transformation'

Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej talks to the 'Bangkok Post' about his digital transformation plan. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)
Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej talks to the 'Bangkok Post' about his digital transformation plan. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)

The newly-appointed commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, is vowing to bring the Royal Thai Police through a digital transformation, to better prepare the force for the rapidly-changing technological landscape.

Despite being just 45, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop's career has made huge advances over the past several years -- and he still has about 15 years to go before his mandatory retirement in 2036.

Having graduated from Class 50 at the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop went on to obtain his Master of Science in Information Systems from the Central Michigan University's College of Business Administration, and a doctorate in philosophy in "technopreneurship" and innovation management from Chulalongkorn University.

He has also participated in the US Federal Bureau Investigation's National Academy training course for international law enforcement officers, which was aimed at improving the administration of justice.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop started out as a deputy inspector at the Crime Suppression Division's 1st sub-division, before he became a police major and transferred to Phuket, where he worked as a tourism inspector, and superintendent.

Afterwards, he moved back to the CSD, where he rose through the ranks quickly -- becoming its commander at just 43.

There, he handled a number of high-profile cases, such as the arrest of former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn over the murder of billionaire construction-firm owner Chuwong Sae Tang in 2015.

On Friday, in another landmark case, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop announced the arrest of Sahachai Jiansermsin, better known as "Joe Pattani", at the CSD.

The 53-year-old alleged ringleader of an oil smuggling operation in the southern region was arrested in Bangkok on money laundering charges, police said, adding Mr Sahachai denied all charges during questioning.

After a two-year stint at the CSD, he became the CIB's deputy commissioner, though only for a year, as he was then promoted to CIB commissioner.

When asked about what he can bring to the force, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop told the Bangkok Post, "I think that being young makes me determined to work.

"I still have a long future ahead, and I want to do many things.

"Because I am relatively young compared to the rest of the force, I want to use technology to improve the efficiency of our units.''

Despite his youth, he has no problem working with others and delegating tasks to older subordinates.

"Seniority is not an issue as long as everyone does their job properly,'' Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

Dubbed as "Big Kong" by the media, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said that his main goal is to upgrade the CIB so it is on par with the FBI.

He said he wanted the CIB to have an even higher degree of professionalism, under the slogan "professionalism, impartiality, staying side by side with the people".

He explained that by professional, he means officers must be competent and supported by the right equipment.

An investigation school, he added, must also be set up to train other officers in the future.

Officers must also substantiate their cases with solid evidence before forwarding them to prosecutors, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

He added that the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) unit was set up to support the CSD's operations.

The unit is code-named "Hanuman" after the monkey king in Ramakien, Thai literature adapted from the Indian epic, Ramayana.

The unit will be deployed in cases where violent clashes are likely, such as during a raid on a drug trafficker's house or warehouse, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

Each unit under the CSD has its own intelligence unit, and the division has a crime centre, from which police can track real-time progress of a developing situation.

The centre is intended to help police in locating and identifying criminals, illegal networks, by providing investigators with easy access to their past records.

The information will boost the efficiency of field operations, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

"The system will support our work in the future, because from now on everything will go digital,'' he said.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said he disagrees with those who are calling for an increase in police manpower to deal with the rising crime rate.

With the real-time crime centre, computerised systems will gradually take over most jobs from officers.

Technology will instead be used to monitor crimes and law violations, he said.

"For example, department stores can check with the centre through a dedicated application to find out if any of the cars which had driven into their parking lot were stolen vehicles,'' he said.

The centre can easily handle the work usually carried out by hundreds of thousands of officers. It can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

"Data and technology will play a major role.

"It is important to think of ways to make the best use of the limited manpower and budget we have to achieve optimal results and control crime effectively," he said.

A public communication unit was also set up to support efforts to publicise the work of the police force, particularly on social media platforms, he said, adding the CSD's Facebook Page has about 1 million followers.

He also stressed that it is important to present the truth to win the trust of the public.

When it comes to impartiality, he said that police are duty-bound to administer justice without fear or favour, and officers must not bow to any influential figures.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said police must also stand with the public and always be ready to help those in need.

He said he also intends to use digital transformation to optimise the RTP's operations, for example, by replacing its paper-based system.

Statistics, he said, will be used to support management of the police force.

He said he plans to apply his digital transformation plan at the CSD first, before expanding the approach to include 12 police divisions under the CIB.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said a system will be also launched next year for the public to lodge complaints online without the need to do so in person at police stations.

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