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Thai police looking into new high-tech surveillance gear

The Royal Thai Police (RTP) is considering upgrading gear for its special operations units to increase operational efficiency and safety for their personnel, according to a senior police officer.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) said the procurement plan, backed by National Police Chief, mainly involves high-tech equipment such as thermal drones.

The upgrade was deemed necessary after the shooting rampage at Terminal 21 in Nakhon Ratchasima between 8 and 9 February 2020. The incident which lasted about 17 hours left 30 dead and 58 wounded, both civilians and officers.

While the RTP has in service some of the high-tech gadgets, such gear may not be practical in certain situations.

Thus, the police chief wants high-tech gear such as thermal tracking drones which can pinpoint the location of a suspect. General drones don’t work in these circumstances.

Use of tech in law enforcement

According to another article, Thailand’s Immigration Bureau stated that smart cars help identify foreigners hiding from the law.

Thailand’s Immigration police have launched into action their much-vaunted BMW smart cars to take their crackdown on illegal and undesirable foreigners living in the kingdom to a whole new level.

On 13 February 2020, one of the newly introduced cars with its onboard computer and the alert system was dispatched to the area around Burapha University hospital in the coastal town of Saen Suk in Chonburi province.

The exercise to highlight this new crime-fighting tool and raise the confidence of the public was ordered by senior officers at Chonburi immigration including the Deputy Director of the Immigration Bureau for the province.

The new smart cars are part of an elaborate investment made by the immigration bureau in the last few years which became the subject of some controversy together with the new biometric system when questioned by former Immigration Bureau chief.

The latter was reported to have appeared last month to give evidence before a hearing of the National Anti-Corruption Commission on the matter.

Since then, Thailand’s immigration bureau and its current leadership have upheld both investments as highly effective in the quest to make the country safe for Thai nationals and foreigners who abide by Thailand’s laws.

In 2019, the current Immigration Bureau Chief promised an ongoing crackdown to rid Thailand of undesirable elements would continue and grow more intensive.

The arrival of the smart cars this week extends database-driven screening to the streets and every corner of the kingdom severely reducing the odds for those breaking the country’s immigration laws and hoping to get away with it.

The Thai public is being asked to phone and report all suspicious foreigners using a hotline in 1178.

Since last year, there is some evidence that this line is being used by Thai locals who have issues or disagreements with foreigners such as the case of US teacher, arrested in the Saraphi district of Chiang Mai in November 2019 after being reported by several business people in the city with whom she quarrelled.

The use of technology in law enforcement aims to help curb crime and ensure safer streets and public spaces. While questions of privacy and appropriate data management continue to be raised by various groups, the merging of technology and law enforcement appears to be the next step in providing better safety services for the citizens of Thailand.

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