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Royal Thai Police

Official name of the Thai Police Force, which has roughly 200,000 officers in many division nationwide, such as the Tourist Police, Railway Police, Highway Police, Traffic Police, Marine Police (fig.), Aviation Police, Immigration Police, Forestry Police, Border Patrol Police, Provincial Police, Consumer Protection Police, Metropolitan Police, and some special police branches such as 191, crime and narcotics suppression units, and a royal protective unit called the Royal Guard Police, whose officers are the only ones with weapons on their bodies that are allowed to access the royal court. All police officers operate under the direct command of the police commissioner-general, who reports directly to the prime minister and a twenty-member police commission. The Tourist Police (fig.), whose officers all speak English but lack real police powers, is also connected to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The police commissioner-general is appointed by the prime minister, subject to cabinet and royal approval. Thai police are civil servants and work a schedule of six hours a day, four days a week. To increase their rather low salaries many officers have extra jobs, often as security guards. Besides this they usually get support from their local communities as well, such as fees from the gold shops they protect, commissions on fines for traffic violations, bribes from entertainment venues, etc. Fresh police officers (fig.) are trained at the Police Cadet Academy (map - fig.), which was founded in 1901 (fig.) during the reign of King Chulalongkorn, and which is currently located in Nakhon Pathom. The former unofficial coat of arms of the Kingdom of Siam (fig.), known in Thai as trah phaen din and used until the Garuda or Krut (fig.) was introduced as the national state symbol and arms of Thailand in 1911, is today still used as the coat of arms of the Royal Thai Police and appears on the hats (fig.) and helmets (fig.) of all police officers in its full form (fig.). The official seal of the Royal Thai Police is known as trah lohkhen tamruat (fig.). Besides the Royal Thai Police each branch of the armed forces also has its own military police force (fig.) called Sarawat Thahaan, abbreviated SH (fig.). Wang Parutsakawan (map - fig.), the former royal residence of Prince Chakraphong Phuwanaht (fig.), now houses the Police Museum (fig.), divided into several zones, both inside the former palace and in a new building in the back of the palace's garden (map - fig.). The museum displays an exhibition on the evolution of the Royal Thai Police, both socially and politically, from the 13th century onward. At the get go, before the police department improved its model to follow that of the West, police affairs were set up to act only in limited circles and its administration didn't extend much throughout the rest of the country. In that time, police candidates were selected solely from people who were descendants from families who had done good for the nation, religion, or the monarchy, and the highest police command was in the hands of the monarch himself. By 1862, King Mongkut (fig.) initiated major reforms to the police force and styled it after the European model, naming the corps Kong Polis (กองโปลิศ), while employing Malays and Indians as officers within Rattanakosin (fig.). This police force was administered by the Krasuang Nakhonbahn (fig.), i.e. the former government department in charge of the security in the capital and its surrounding area, formerly known as Wiang (เวียง) and later as Krom Meuang (กรมเมือง), which is now referred to as Krom Phra Nakhonbahn (กรมพระนครบาล). Then, after a 1890 visit to Singapore with his brother King Chulalongkorn (fig.), Prince Naret Worarit (fig.), the 8th son of King Mongkut, reorganized the police after the Singaporean model and in 1897, the Danish Lieutenant Colonel Gustave Schau (fig.) was hired in order to set up the Tamruat Phuthon (ตำรวจภูธร), i.e. a ‘Provincial Police’ force, which was established as a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security, i.e. a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement, in order to make the police a more national force, beyond the capital, akin to the gendarmerie. Hence, two departments of police came into existence, that operated under two ministries, i.e. Krom Phon Trawaen (กรมพลตระเวน) or Tamruat Nakhonbahn (ตำรวจนครบาล), meaning Department of Patrolmen’ and ‘Metropolitan Police’, respectively, which operated under the Krasuang Nakhonbahn; and Krom Tamruat Phuthon (กรมตำรวจภูธร), i.e. the ‘Provincial Police Department’, which operated under Krasuang Mahathai, while Gustave Shau became its first Commander-in-Chief and was later appointed to the fifth Chief of Police, serving as Major General from 1913 to 1915, under his Thai name and bandasak or title Phraya Wasuthep (fig.), a Thai designation also used for Phra Narai (fig.), i.e. Vishnu. Then, on 13 October 1915, in the reign of King Rama VI (fig.), the two police departments were merged into one and 13 October was declared National Police Day, known in Thai as Wan Tamruat Haeng Chaht. Phra Nirantarai, the legendary so-called crime-busting Buddha image (fig.) is revered by the Royal Thai Police as its own spiritual idol. See also Ranks of the Royal Thai Police, History of Thai Police Uniforms, Samnakngaan Tamruat Haeng Chaat, Anusawarih Phu Phitak Rab Chai Prachachon, and Phleng Kiat Tamruat Khong Thai. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1), (2), (3) and (4).