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Governor Maitri Inthusut has urged police to be more polite in their dealings with the public, in order to avoid situations like the seven-hour road blockade on April 23.
The blockade closed down ThepkrasattriRd, causing traffic jams 10 kilometres long in both directions, and trapping an estimated 10,000 people in their vehicles.
Initially the roadblock was staged in an effort to force police to stage a re-enactment of the rape of a pregnant 25-year-old by 17-year-old twins. But the focus shifted quite swiftly to long-standing local resentment against some officers in Tah Chat Chai Police Station.
Locals in Baan Mai Khao and Baan Mak Prok complained that two local teenagers had been wrongfully arrested for the rape, and there were allegations that the police had tried to beat confessions out of them.
However, the two teenagers later denied they had been beaten, and Pol Col Peerayuth Karajedee, Deputy Commander of Phuket Police, said, “From our inquiries, the four officers did nothing wrong.”
Gov Maitri explained that the way the four officers handled the two teenagers was within the law, but that the language they used when questioning the duo might have been “too strong … and this sounded offensive”.
He said he wanted police to “adapt themselves” to work in a more polite way because social networks spread news fast, and the wrong choice of words could cause trouble almost immediately. The blockade, he added, was bad for Phuket’s tourism image.
Col Peerayuth defended his officers. “We need these [four] investigators to work for us. I told [the protesters] that if anyone were to be transferred, I would prefer it to be me.
“I thought this would end the disagreement, but instead it was turned into a focus of the road blockade.
“Some people did not like a particular officer who was accused of assaulting the teenagers two years ago, and whose name is still on the rolls of the [Tah Chat Chai] police station.
“We are asking for people to be fair to us. We did our best to catch the accused as fast as we could, but instead of getting credit for this, some of us end up being transferred.”
Gov Maitri is due to go back to Mai Khao tomorrow (April 30) to talk with the local people in order to understand their problems and needs.