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Bangkok - Crowd control drill fails

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  • Bangkok - Crowd control drill fails

    The city police's crowd control methods have been called into question after a drill failed yesterday.

    The drill was instigated following an incident on Friday when PAD demonstrators and protesters from the multi-coloured group sealed off all routes leading to parliament, blocking MPs from getting to the House for the reconciliation debate.

    The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) organised an anti-riot exercise at its headquarters yesterday, witnessed by acting city police chief Pol Maj Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang and Pol Gen Worapong Chiewpreecha, the Royal Thai Police adviser.

    Pol Gen Worapong gave the drill his thumbs-down, saying it did not go according to plan.

    Among the unsatisfactory points was a water-spraying truck costing 30 million baht that was bullet-proof but not fire-proof.

    Also, officers who took part in the drill did not wear gas masks during the tear gas exercise.

    Pol Maj Gen Khamronwit was also dissatisfied with the drill, which he said was slow and lacked vigour.

    He said the officers supervising the anti-riot squad have been ordered to fix the flaws in their crowd control operations.

    Meanwhile, Pol Maj Gen Khamronwit, acting chief of Provincial Police Region 1, has been ordered to supervise the MPB for 30 days following the transfers from their posts last week of city police commissioner Pol Lt Gen Winai Thongsong and his deputy Pol Maj Gen Wichai Sangprapai.

    While no official reason was given for the transfers, they were seen as resulting from the officers having failed to contain protests against the government's national reconciliation bill on Thursday and Friday.

    It is thought Pol Maj Gen Khamronwit will have a firmer hand in dealing with protesters, although he has said he would prefer to negotiate with them.

    Police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo said national police chief Priewpan Damapong had expressed his concerns about the police's duty to ensure law and order at demonstrations. More officers will be deployed to increase crowd control capacity, he said.