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Newly appointed police chief Colonel Chimi Dorji spoke to Kuensel’s Tashi Dema on his plans and the future of the RBP

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Q&A: What are some of your goals as police chief? 

The dream and aspiration of every Chief of Police is to take the RBP to a higher platform. Mine is no different. Even though we are at a fairly comfortable level of professionalism, we still need to walk an extra mile to be one step ahead of the criminals. My goal as the police chief is to clear the obstacles on that extra mile.

Your predecessor made significant changes in police-public relations. How do you intend to continue to improve this?

The former Chief worked hard to build the image of the police and had successfully introduced the police-public partnership.  But this is not a new concept. This was one subject that was discussed among the officers since a long time back.  The former Chief has sowed the seeds, we will now nurture them to grow bigger and stronger.  As of now, the partnership is mostly focused on students and the police. We are now planning to take this concept into our rural communities and villages in a phased manner.

You are taking over as police chief at a time when violent crime related to drugs and alcohol are rising. How do you plan to address this?

Considering the ever increasing number of people in Thimphu, the figures with regards to violent crimes related to drugs are not high. Young people need constant parental control and they need to focus on good choices. Abuse of prescription drugs and indulging in alcohol can be curbed with concerted efforts from government agencies, NGOs, teachers and the parents.

We all recognise that police work is hard and that it can be emotionally debilitating. We know about the frustrations of the work and the constant risk of demoralising cynicism. But we also know that our work has meaning.  And if anyone lives a purpose-driven life, it is a police officer. The greatest antidote to cynicism is a sense of accomplishment, accompanied by community support and acceptance.

There is criticism that police investigations are hindered by the lack of capacity, i.e. a forensic unit and therefore ‘negligence’. How do you plan to overcome these challenges?

Lack of a forensic unit is not the only answer in crime solving. In fact, forensic science is only a tool to aid in the investigation. It is always the hard work and sleepless nights spent by the officers that really matters in a police investigation. I can vouch that we have many capable and well trained officers in our organisation. For this reason alone, we have records of officers solving very complicated crimes without the use of forensic tools. It is the sheer hard work and concerns of the officers that really matters during the investigations. Use of forensic tools will definitely ease the work of the investigator but ultimately it always depends on the capability of the officer.

Police-media relations have come a long way and access to information has improved. But there are areas that require more transparency. Do you plan to make RBP more media friendly in areas that do not involve national security?

Media is both a bane and a boon. Sometimes, I feel that media is very intrusive and demanding. But there are also times when media is found playing a very constructive role especially when it comes to informing the public.  I do not understand what you mean by more transparency, but as far as I am concerned, in a small place like Thimphu or any dzongkhag for that matter, there is nothing that media do not have access to. Of course sensitive cases need to be guarded and handled very carefully and thoughtfully. We cannot keep our doors open for media to walk in at every opportunity and write stories that can undermine an investigation.

The former chief made an attempt to do away with the orderly system but wasn’t successful. What are your thoughts on the orderly system? Do you think the RBP still requires the orderly system?

Once a system is already accepted for a long time, it is always difficult to change. So far, things are working very well and I think we are happy with it.

Parliament discussed the need for better detention centres recently. What are some of the challenges RBP is facing in administering detention centres?

With the growing number of people especially in Thimphu, there is definitely a rise in the number of crimes and therefore arrests too. We have limited capacities in our existing detention centres and when more people are detained it is always a challenge for the police.

The recent incidences in Paro and Zhemgang indicate that the fire division of the RBP is facing challenges in operation and maintenance. How do you intend to improve the fire division? Do you think the fire division could be more efficient if it is an autonomous agency?

Our firefighting vehicles are in shipshape order and condition. It is not that we have operational or maintenance issues. We have a team of professionally trained firefighters and up-to-date fire fighting vehicles. Of course, I do accept the fact that we lack the capability in terms of reach as we have very limited fire fighting vehicles. However, with the assistance from GoI, we have at least one firefighting vehicle in every dzongkhag.

At one point, we considered that fire fighting being a non-policing job should be delinked, so that the budget and strength of fire fighters would not affect the RBP budget and manpower.  It was just a mere proposal though. The fire fighting division under the RBP has proved its capability many times in the past and it will do so in the years to come.

The incident that happened in Paro is a freak accident. Such a thing has never happened before. Fire fighting is always a rushed affair as our entire aim is to contain the fire in the minimum time. That is why, whenever there is a house fire, we deploy police to keep the onlookers at a safe distance always ensuring the safety of the onlookers from such freak accidents that can happen from the malfunctioning of a fire engine, or uncontrolled swinging of the hose pipe or the explosion from a gas cylinder.  In Zhemgang, when responding to a house fire, the fire vehicle had skid on a slippery patch of road and toppled. But this is not a rare phenomenon.

We are seeing a lot of our police officers going to serve in UN peace keeping missions abroad. How is this benefitting the RBP?

His Majesty The King’s wisdom and farsightedness in sending our personnel to the UN missions has been very beneficial. This not only helped our officers and men/women to learn from the best practices but also gain insights by working alongside with very experienced police officers from other member countries. Not only that, our officers also gained in terms of pay and perks paid by the Mission. We feel humbled by this gift from above.

How do you see RBP by the end of your tenure?

It is too early to make any comments at this stage. Let us cross the bridge when we come to it.

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