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Despite the recent deadly shoot-out at a pub in Samui or the bodies piling up of people in Phuket killed by guns carried into public places by off-duty officers, the Royal Thai Police is not considering reviewing its stance on officers carrying loaded firearms into pubs, clubs, restaurants or other venues while not on duty.
Citing the Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks, and the Equivalent of Firearms Act, which dates back to 1947, Maj Gen Chayodom said, “By law, only officers on duty may carry weapons in public, which is a suitable policy. Officers on duty need weapons for protection and to stop crime when needed. There is no need to change this policy.”
After explaining at length that police officers of the rank of captain or above must also carry police identification with them while carrying a firearm in public while on duty, Gen Chayodom admitted that the Royal Thai Police “does not have a policy for off-duty police officers to carry weapons into public places”.
“If off duty officers are involved in a firearm incident and found guilty, they will be punished with both criminal and disciplinary proceedings, accordingly,” he said in an official statement* issued to The Phuket News.
“If after investigation an officer is found guilty of ‘such an accusation’ (sic) then the punishment would be either to ask the officer to leave the police force voluntary or he or she will be fired from the current position, this depends on the severity of the offence,” he said.
That is if the officer is charged, and even then that is if the police investigation is concluded, or even launched.
Gen Chayodom did not respond to questions about the current status of investigations or criminal proceedings against any Region 8 police officers involved in specific cases identified by The Phuket News where citizens – mostly innocents – were killed by guns carried by Royal Thai Police officers into a public venue while off duty.
Region 8 Police jurisdiction includes Samui, where two people were shot dead and five others wounded in a violent pub brawl involving several policemen in the early hours of Sept 23.
Lt Corp Jaerasak Sroisangvarn and Kraisorn Mingsakul, a guard at the Camp Beer pub in Bo Phut, died in the shoot-out.
The five with bullet wounds were identified as Lt Corp Sitthisak Ngamkhom, Lt Corp Kritsana Boonyin, pub guard Voravit Yimyong, pub manager Thepthinnakorn Thongphet and pub waiter Veerapong Jarusenee.
Initial reports indicated that the gunfight began after Lt Corp Narongsak Khamjai of Bo Phut Police Station fired shots from his 9mm pistol into the crowd gathering in front of the pub after a fight broke out between the police “enjoying a night out” and a group of young men at the pub.
Narongsak was later arrested, sacked from the police force and now faces murder and attempted murder charges.
Closer to home, however, police have yet to provide any explanation to the public about two Phuket City Police officers killing each other in a gunfight outside a restaurant in Phuket Town.
The shooting started after Sgt Maj Nattachai Phonoy of the Phuket Immigration Police refused Lt Corp Wongsathon Theparan of the Kathu Police (Thung Thong) and his friends entry to the Haophan restaurant and pub near the Seahorse Circle. Sgt Maj Nattachai was moonlighting at the live music venue as security.