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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police stepping up efforts to calm city traffic

Police stepping up efforts to calm city traffic

Phnom Penh Police Chief Heng Pov has asked a visiting Chinese police delegation to

consider donating closed-circuit television cameras to help his force monitor the

city streets.

Pov said the idea of surveillance cameras was his own, and he first raised the subject

while meeting with a group of Chinese police officers in mid June.

Pov said putting cameras on the streets would ease the job of his police force, increase

security in the city, reduce the number of traffic officers necessary to patrol the

city, and make the life of criminals more difficult.

The camera system, however, would be expensive, and deploying it city-wide was probably

beyond the city's means.

Pov's idea has drawn mixed reactions from human rights groups; while many support

using technology to make the streets safer, many have also voiced concerns over privacy

issues and the potential to abuse the system.

Thun Saray, president of Adhoc, supported the idea of surveillance cameras for monitoring

traffic, and in particular instances for security reasons, but questioned the camera's

ability to fight against crime, which is not confined to only the streets.

Kem Sokha, president of Cambodia Center for Human Rights, echoed Saray's sentiments.

He welcomed any new use of technology that might reduce the number of officers on

the street or assist in efforts to fight crime, but he too remained weary of adding

further to the power of a police force commonly criticized as corrupt.

"I have some concerns," Sokha said. "It could cause trouble if they

abuse their power."

In the meantime, traffic officers, backed by armed military police, have increased

their presence around Independence Monument and began cracking down on traffic scofflaws.

Yim Visoth, a police officer working at the Independence Monument roundabout, said

officers had been deployed about a week ago and were patrolling around the clock.

He said efforts were focused on stopping drivers going the wrong way down the one-way

streets that border Hun Sen Park.

According to Visoth, between August 31 and September 6, police working at the Monument

stopped 230 motorbikes, 6 cars and 81 bicycles. Drivers were educated and fined,

he said.

The order was given shortly after Cambodian-American lawyer David Chanaiwa took his

Hummer for a joyride through Hun Sen park, damaging flower beds and grass.

Kim Yidath, Phnom Penh municipality traffic police chief, said driving the wrong

direction on the one-way streets was the main reason officers were stopping drivers,

but that police officers remained vigilant in the ongoing crackdown on "flying"

and reckless driving.

"We do not want to fine them," Yidath said. "We want them to respect

the traffic law. But if we do not fine them, they will continue to drive the wrong

way forever."

Lay Bunthoeun, deputy chief of staff at Phnom Penh municipality police, said traffic

officers would continue to patrol the Independence Monument area until things were

under control.

"The street cameras will be available on some major streets soon," Bunthoeun

said.

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