Phnom Penh’s police chief on Thursday blasted his subordinates for doing an inadequate job of controlling weapons issued to officers, and announced that police had begun a “weapons census” in an effort to deal with the problem.
Speaking at an annual crime reporting meeting at the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Headquarters on Thursday, municipal police commissioner Chuon Sovann said authorities were losing track of their weapons.
“The problem of managing weapons and explosives is very difficult,” Lieutenant General Sovann said. “Many officials who are issued a weapons license and weapon for a mission often do not return them.”
“There are also some officials who are allowed to keep their weapons, but it is very complicated to keep track of this,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Sovann added that many police units in the capital were failing to keep a proper record of the weapons and licenses they issued to their officers, and were conducting inadequate examinations of guns and weapons used in crimes.
“Robbery, snatching and theft are the biggest crimes happening in Phnom Penh,” he said.
“Some police units do not pay enough attention to managing weapons.”
“To deal with these issues, we have begun a weapons census since the start of 2016 to keep a record of all weapons kept at home, in police units and in state institutions across Phnom Penh,” he added.
Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Sucheat said by telephone that the problem also existed among some members of the military, and that only those with a rank above colonel were allowed to carry weapons while off duty.
“Otherwise, for every operation officers must produce a mission statement in order to be issued with a weapons license,” General Sucheat said, adding that weak enforcement sometimes meant that weapons were not returned.
“We have already advised officials about this and regularly educate officers not to do this,” Gen. Sucheat said. “We do not support any officials who commit this error, and we will take measures against them.”