Students join cops on beat
Scheme sees Rangsit University contributing to crime prevention
With only two police officers to patrol the vast Muang Ek community in Pathum Thani per shift, deterring crime had been a near-impossible mission.
Urgent help was needed to keep the 60,000 students at Rangsit University and another 20,000 local residents safe.
So the university, which is at the heart of the community, put together a project to support the police by training its 15 security guards to assist local police in crime detection and prevention.
The project launched last year proved to be an instant success, with a reduction in street crimes common in the area such as grab-and-run theft. The overall crime rate has fallen by 70%, according to Pol Lt Col Krisanapong Putrakul, chairman of the university's Criminology and Criminal Justice Administration programme.
"That was the first phase of our 'University Policing' project," he said.
The project came about thanks to cooperation between the university, local police, the Justice Ministry, the military, local administrative bodies and authorities in crime suppression.
The local force has faced limitations in policing the area, so other parties decided to jump in and offer assistance, according to Pol Lt Col Krisanapong.
"Members of the community are important not only for reporting suspected criminal activities to police but also giving feedback on the performance of state officers or units in charge of combatting crimes," he said.
Now, the project is moving into its second phase which involves university students getting in on the policing act.
"Ten students are being recruited to work alongside security guards and police officers in helping maintain safety and order not just in the university but in the wider Muang Ek community," he said.
The project's success has drawn a positive reaction from the students, and more than 40 have applied to walk the beat, which comes with the personal satisfaction of seeing their community security boosted as well as a modest allowance.
Both sexes are allowed to take part in the project.
The students first go through "observation" training, where they are deployed as receptionists at the university rector's office.
They will be taught how to detect suspicious activity in those that pass through.
They also monitor the university's security system, which includes CCTV cameras and the operation of a mobile application called "RSU Police".
The smartphone app is used for soliciting anonymous tip-offs about crimes in the community.
The participating students will also be required put in some hours working at security checkpoints around the neighbourhood alongside the professional security guards.
"The students get an allowance for their work, which is also another incentive for joining the programme," said Pol Lt Col Krisanapong. "Rangsit University is the first in the country to adopt the internal policing model."