National Police chief Neth Savoeun instructed all police chiefs of the municipal and provincial police to assist in strengthening the capacity of village guards to improve their effectiveness as an auxiliary force in maintaining security and public order – in accordance with the safe village-commune policy.
In a March 16 letter to all municipal and provincial police chiefs, Savoeun said that throughout the implementation of the policy, the police and the community have seen village guards actively involved with the administrative police at the local level.
It said that further cooperation between guards, the police and commune administrations, would mobilise more human resources towards the goal of ensuring a safe, stable environment – which would provide people with the confidence to live their lives feeling warm and supported.
“The General Commission of the National Police instructs all police chiefs to give this matter their close attention. By ensuring that discipline and a strong moral code exist throughout the ranks of village guards – through education and training – they will improve communications and interactions with the public,” it said.
He stressed the need “for staff at all levels of the Administrative Unity Command to build, strengthen and support the guards so they become a competent support force which can participate in the homeland security movement and contribute to the implementation of the safe village-commune policy successfully.”
Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on April 17 that village guards were selected by local people, so they did not have the formal training in ethics and regulations that police officers have. They were however, an important auxiliary force in maintaining order at the local level.
“They help to bring order to the markets and towns, and at weddings and other festivals, but sometimes they are mistaken for police. To avoid embarrassing the authorities, we must make certain that they work ethically. This means they will display a gentle manner when dealing with the public,” he said.
He offered an example, saying that if village guards were enforcing a policy that banned vendors from selling goods on the pavements, they should not kick the baskets full of goods over and shout at the owners. They should sit and politely explain the commune’s policy to the vendors. Provincial police should educate the guards in how to deescalate arguments and avoid arguments.
Battambang provincial deputy police chief Lim Puthyla told The Post on March 17 the provincial police chief had instructed officers to educate village guard.
“The police chief has instructed all officers to work closely with the guards to ensure the quality of their work. This is not a problem for us, because we have been very satisfied with their work thus far,” he said.