Commune police officers will, from now on, only be recruited from their home neighborhoods where they “know the happiness and suffering of the people,” Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced on Tuesday.
In the past, new recruits assigned to unfamiliar communes would often find reasons, such as an illness in the family, to be transferred back home, Mr. Kheng said after a meeting in Phnom Penh with hundreds of commune police officials from around the country.
“It’s especially important that we select the children of people in the area, because if we assign Phnom Penh residents to work at rural commune police stations, they won’t go to work there,” he said.
Locals also better understand the problems in their own communes, Mr. Kheng said. “There is no lack of people,” he added, noting that youth can become commune-level officers even if they fail their high school exams.
Local officials who attended the meeting backed Mr. Kheng’s directive. Chan Sarin, the police chief of Prey Poun commune in Prey Veng province, said that already all six officers in his station were from his commune, which was “a good thing.”
“If we select people from different communes, they won’t know about the situation in our commune,” Mr. Sarin said.
At the meeting, Mr. Kheng also pressed the officials present to keep up with their training and maintain security. “We will work hard to guarantee safety for the elections that will happen in Cambodia,” he said.
Mr. Kheng’s order to keep officers near their hometowns runs in contrast to the tactics of the country’s military police. During a speech last year in which he evoked Adolf Hitler’s military prowess, National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha said he decided years ago that his forces must move around every few months.
“If they stay in one place, some older brothers will ask them to be bodyguards or drivers,” he said of his officers. “Secondly, if they stay in one place, they will become lazy and not receive training because they are still young.”