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Maizefarmer

Another Perspective On Thailand's Volunteer Tourist Police

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No shortage of “unease” expressed by punters about the volunteer tourist police.

Nothing new about it – similar programs in the West have been run for years to help Western law enforcement deal with their resident and tourist Asian communities – and very successfully so as well. But there are some differences between those “volunteer” programs and the program we have in Thailand.

The paramilitary style uniform doesn’t help – it invites “comments”.

Yes, its very Thai/Asian style and TIT, but one of the rationale behind the program is to take down the cultural & language barriers Western tourists find difficult to deal with – the uniform blurs the distinction between the RTTP and ex-pat volunteers. It really should go.

Physical interaction with tourists has to be a no-go area – if only for the volunteers to protect them-selves, never mind handling an irate tourist for whatever reason when their are plenty Thai cops about to do that if needed - I can think of a whole bunch of scenarios which would throw the project to the dogs if a volunteer were hauled before a court as a consequence of an incident involving a tourist – even if that incident came about as a result of the behaviour/actions of the police they were with while on duty, and not them directly.

In the unlikely event a Thai court dealt the death knoll, you can be sure the European tabloid media would have a field day, and the public response to that print (rightly or wrongly) would do the program no favour at all.

Due-diligence on applicant backgrounds would appear to something to be desired – don’t be surprised if a UK tabloid runs some print on volunteer x in the not to distant future (it's coming)– thats not ging to help the public image of the program.

Volunteers should not be allowed to comment on or get into discussion with folk – except to translate - comments and interactions like putting a hand up and saying "don't video", or "you are videoing covertly ........." - it's done, it's going on uTube (as it subsequently did), nothing you can do about it, the video couldn't have been taken away, no law was breached and to try and take it away would more than likely have got someone esle to get a video camera out and ... video some more - you just look silly trying to play a role in a situation with no role to play. The best thing to do would have been to smile and say, "Hi, having a nice evening". This example is perhaps a bad example of commenting and internacting with folk, but it emphasizes the point - volunteers are constantly in the public eye and will be subjected to more scrutiny than the RTTP they work with.

This and physical interaction with folk are both roles that police get extensive training in how to go about to avoid comebacks.

The recent videos showed a number of things/actions no volunteer in a similar Western program would be allowed to carry out/or get involved with ...… yes, I know TIT, buts its these small things that become accepted and unchallenged informal conduct that have the potential to form the basis to something that can escalate out of control and become a serious incident.

The volunteer program has the potential to play a very useful and helpful role – its members have to be beyond personal and professional reproach, their role and the image they present must be one of impartiality (currently it’s to tightly aligned with the RTPF “image”). The role they play also needs to be defined and clarified (both internally and to the public) and it then needs to be enforced. The legislation that governs their “employment” needs to have all it’s I’s dotted and T’s crossed.

Till then it’s a flawed program open to an incident that could damage it irretrievably, and the ultimate loosers will be tourists.

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very nicely written Maizefarmer, lets hope someone is listening,but have my doubts. and i agree with you 100% that they should be only there to translate, that what they were set up to do.

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I think they are doing an outstanding job and at the end of the day they are providing a great service for the community and tourists alike. :) So big thumbs up and hopefully they can expand their operations in the future.

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The paramilitary style uniform doesn’t help – it invites “comments”.

Yes, its very Thai/Asian style and TIT, but one of the rationale behind the program is to take down the cultural & language barriers Western tourists find difficult to deal with – the uniform blurs the distinction between the RTTP and ex-pat volunteers. It really should go.

Having watched the first 3 episodes, I'd say that the volunteers have a place to play and I'm not going to get into all the usual nonsense about it. I think you have made some very good points.

The uniform is an interesting point, I really do not see the benefits of the "para military" style of uniform which the Pattaya volunteers wear. Having worked in what can only be described as difficult environments, these type of uniforms do not help portray the volunteers in a good light considering their supposed role. They have no legal standing as such, so I don't see that they need to be dressed the way they are. IMO they would be much better served by wearing a more casual look such as a very plain polo shirt (not black) to differentiate them from the authorities here. The look to me, looks far too confrontational, considering their position and some of them look to thrive upon their "position of power", there needs to be some serious thought into how and what they can do. I'm not going to bash them, think they do a decent enough job in that what they appear to do, it's just that there needs to be a little more structure, training, regulations and DD to ensure that the right people are doing this. I don't at the moment think that is happening and it looks like another half baked scheme dreamed up by the Hub of BS.

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I have watched the "Big Trouble Epsisodes" and from what I have seen they appeart to be doing a good job both for their community and the tourists...

I say keep up the good work.

fyi.. other than the "Jet Ski Scam", I haven't seen anything else that really shows Thailand in a bad light... or would deter anyone from coming to Thailand for vacation.

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These are good, interesting, and valid points. I agree that the concept of tourist/racially mixed community police volunteers is a good one - only a fool would say otherwise, but the OP is spot on with his criticisms of what's happening in Pattaya. The successful programs in other countries have very stringent rules about how far these people can take their limited authority, and as pointed out, the attire is vastly different from the black, threatening costumes that these guys wear. I also suspect that in countries where this type of assistance has been successful, it would be very much frowned upon to see these volunteers walking 5 abreast in a thugish manner down one of the busiest tourist-attracting streets in the city. I would bet big that if these people changed the way they dress and put on a sharp looking (white) polo shirt with a discreet logo on it indicating their association with the real tourist police, instead of these all black menacing looking outfits, they would be accepted much better, and negative comments would be greatly reduced. We must remember that in cinema and stories the good guy wears white and the bad guy wears black. We've had that relationship with those two colours etched into our minds from the time we were quite young, so I really can't understand why these people choose the much less friendly (and trustworthy) black option, unless they want to be "bad boys" that are out to intimidate. I would also bet that the "bad boy" look really appeals to some of the volunteers, and if the black outfit was done away with, so would their interest in being part of the program.

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I have watched the "Big Trouble Epsisodes" and from what I have seen they appeart to be doing a good job both for their community and the tourists...

I say keep up the good work.

fyi.. other than the "Jet Ski Scam", I haven't seen anything else that really shows Thailand in a bad light... or would deter anyone from coming to Thailand for vacation.

The bribe asked for (60k baht) in the "drug bust"...a paltry piece of smoke.....of the young English girl clearly showed the corruption of the police.

The corrupt legal system and the equally corrupt Thai police, don't give real credence to a foreigners complaint.

The brutal jailers and the sub human conditions in their jails are shocking to any Westerner.

No. Thailand is not looking good at all.

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Yes, for sure every person who perceives themselves as being in a position of power, or more often authority, will don "the uniform". How close are security men's uniforms here to the police? It makes them have that feel good factor and give them an air of authority in situations that most of us here would walk away from and not get involved in.

I commend and admire anyone who gives up their time as volunteers. It is all to often a thankless task and they all too often go as unsung heroes. How many here know the RNLI (Lifeboat rescue around the coasts of Ireland and the UK) are unpaid volunteers? The odd coxswain and engineer gets paid but the crew regularly put their lives on the line, to save others, for free! The Vincent De Paul? The Samaritans? Habitat for Humanity? The list is endless. These all are people who try to do good and help others. I won't be an armchair megaphone and rubbish them.

I personally have no problem with the uniform. I couldn't care less what uniform they wear. But put these guys in a white polo shirt/black trousers and stand back and watch the abuse and fights. They would have no chance. The uniform helps to keep the human flotsam that they deal with at bay, and somewhat under control.

Edited by harleyclarkey

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Yes, for sure every person who perceives themselves as being in a position of power, or more often authority, will don "the uniform". How close are security men's uniforms here to the police? It makes them have that feel good factor and give them an air of authority in situations that most of us here would walk away from and not get involved in.

I commend and admire anyone who gives up their time as volunteers. It is all to often a thankless task and they all too often go as unsung heroes. How many here know the RNLI (Lifeboat rescue around the coasts of Ireland and the UK) are unpaid volunteers? The odd coxswain and engineer gets paid but the crew regularly put their lives on the line, to save others, for free! The Vincent De Paul? The Samaritans? Habitat for Humanity? The list is endless. These all are people who try to do good and help others. I won't be an armchair megaphone and rubbish them.

I personally have no problem with the uniform. I couldn't care less what uniform they wear. But put these guys in a white polo shirt/black trousers and stand back and watch the abuse and fights. They would have no chance. The uniform helps to keep the human flotsam that they deal with at bay, and somewhat under control.

I think that this touches on a problem the OP is pointing out. Where these types of programs have been successful, the volunteers don't "deal with" the human flotsam - they assist the police, usually with barriers involving language and customs. The REAL police are paid to deal with the "flotsam" (BTW, you probably couldn't have picked a more derogatory term when referring to fellow human beings. LOL)

And I really don't understand what you're saying about, "But put these guys in a white polo shirt/black trousers and stand back and watch the abuse and fights." Perhaps you could elaborate.

Edited by Beacher

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I do agree with your comment on the coruption... but the girl did admit she was guilty of the crime and the program did show the sign stating the penatlies for being caught with drugs that tourists see once they get off the boat.

I would say that considering the Laws pertaining to Drug posesion that exist in Thailand, she got off quite light. While I do not like the idea of coruption at all... the corruption in this case was the Thai Police willing to look past the law for a person who amitted that they were guilty of the crime.

This is still bad, but not as bad (in my opinion) as the Police abusing their position to extort money from people who maintain their inocence.

Both are wrong....but only one of the above situations actually contains a true victim. The other contains a person paying a fine for their crime (fitting based upon the crime in this case), the only problem is that the "fine" is going into the wrong pockets.

I have watched the "Big Trouble Epsisodes" and from what I have seen they appeart to be doing a good job both for their community and the tourists...

I say keep up the good work.

fyi.. other than the "Jet Ski Scam", I haven't seen anything else that really shows Thailand in a bad light... or would deter anyone from coming to Thailand for vacation.

The bribe asked for (60k baht) in the "drug bust"...a paltry piece of smoke.....of the young English girl clearly showed the corruption of the police.

The corrupt legal system and the equally corrupt Thai police, don't give real credence to a foreigners complaint.

The brutal jailers and the sub human conditions in their jails are shocking to any Westerner.

No. Thailand is not looking good at all.

Edited by CWMcMurray

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I am all for them, they do a great job as far as I am concerned.

I think they should all be kitted out to the nines with semi-auto Glocks. I want to see Let. Gen Maj Howard packing some serious heat on Walking street with his Glock smoking after nailing some soi hoods who have just done a bust at a notorious go go bar. I want to see Howard turn to the camera and say 'som nam nah mother f'er'.

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I am all for them, they do a great job as far as I am concerned.

I think they should all be kitted out to the nines with semi-auto Glocks. I want to see Let. Gen Maj Howard packing some serious heat on Walking street with his Glock smoking after nailing some soi hoods who have just done a bust at a notorious go go bar. I want to see Howard turn to the camera and say 'som nam nah mother f'er'.

You must be psychic. That's exactly how the actor Howard plays the role in an upcoming episode :):D

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I am all for them, they do a great job as far as I am concerned.

I think they should all be kitted out to the nines with semi-auto Glocks. I want to see Let. Gen Maj Howard packing some serious heat on Walking street with his Glock smoking after nailing some soi hoods who have just done a bust at a notorious go go bar. I want to see Howard turn to the camera and say 'som nam nah mother f'er'.

You must be psychic. That's exactly how the actor Howard plays the role in an upcoming episode :):D

Apparently they are in dialogue with Howard at the moment, they will probably start shooting 'Dirty Howard' by years out. Imagine that

Edited by bridge

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Yes, for sure every person who perceives themselves as being in a position of power, or more often authority, will don "the uniform". How close are security men's uniforms here to the police? It makes them have that feel good factor and give them an air of authority in situations that most of us here would walk away from and not get involved in.

I commend and admire anyone who gives up their time as volunteers. It is all to often a thankless task and they all too often go as unsung heroes. How many here know the RNLI (Lifeboat rescue around the coasts of Ireland and the UK) are unpaid volunteers? The odd coxswain and engineer gets paid but the crew regularly put their lives on the line, to save others, for free! The Vincent De Paul? The Samaritans? Habitat for Humanity? The list is endless. These all are people who try to do good and help others. I won't be an armchair megaphone and rubbish them.

I personally have no problem with the uniform. I couldn't care less what uniform they wear. But put these guys in a white polo shirt/black trousers and stand back and watch the abuse and fights. They would have no chance. The uniform helps to keep the human flotsam that they deal with at bay, and somewhat under control.

I think that this touches on a problem the OP is pointing out. Where these types of programs have been successful, the volunteers don't "deal with" the human flotsam - they assist the police, usually with barriers involving language and customs. The REAL police are paid to deal with the "flotsam" (BTW, you probably couldn't have picked a more derogatory term when referring to fellow human beings. LOL)

And I really don't understand what you're saying about, "But put these guys in a white polo shirt/black trousers and stand back and watch the abuse and fights." Perhaps you could elaborate.

It was pointed out in the post before that they should have T/Polo Shirts or whatever. Going around Pattaya dressed in a T shirt will lose any sense of authority the uniform gives them. this is what the police and military often rely on to control situations....the uniform. Say you see 6 guys in police/military uniform and right beside them 6 guys in T shirts . Both are telling you what to do....who would you listen to first?

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