Chhoun Sovan, Phnom Penh municipal police chief, on Wednesday took local police and members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to task for ongoing weapons-related crimes in the capital.
The speech had a familiar ring to it. Last year at this time, Sovan made a similar call for strict protocols surrounding the signing out of weapons and carrying of guns by off-duty officers.
On Wednesday, he said both RCAF and police had failed to comply. “This makes bad [people] take opportunities to buy weapons … and use these for armed robberies.”
He said that while officers often had legal permits to carry weapons, they had to be given up when their shifts ended, with few exceptions. Ignoring this could be disastrous, he said.
“In Chamkarmon district, a village chief and his two children were killed [by a police official],” he said, noting the officer should never have been carrying his weapon at the time.
According to a police report, 1,830 checkpoints were set up in which they found almost 100 guns being carried by off-duty officers. Sovan said no one was punished for this, despite the fact that the guns were carried illegally.
The report goes on to say that they seized five guns, including three carried by RCAF soldiers without permission letters, and two that were fired into the air, for which they arrested one person.
Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat yesterday said the speech was a bid “to strengthen the law . . . and [to] remind officers”.