Drug-using officers to be fired

Phnom Penh police chief Lieutenant General Sar Thet yesterday said he would dismiss officers under his command who test positive for drug use, adding that the move was to set a good example for citizens.

Lt Gen Thet said the municipal police department will start implementing compulsory urine tests for drugs in the upcoming weeks.

“I have told them many times that police officers must not be involved with drugs. If any officer does not pass the drug test, I will quickly remove them from their positions without hesitation,” he said. “Police must set a good example to the public by staying away from drugs.”

Lt Gen Thet said that officers who are dismissed from their positions would be sent to correctional treatment centers for rehabilitation.

“Those who consume or are addicted to drugs are also considered as victims. If any of them under my command test positive for drugs, I will send them for rehabilitation,” he said. “This is important to prevent them from continuing drugs.”

Lt Gen Thet’s statement came after Interior Minister Sar Kheng last week ordered all police officers to carry out their tasks professionally, and not to be involved with drugs.

Major General Ouch Sokhon, Battambang provincial police chief, yesterday shared the same sentiments, saying that a number of officers under his command who used drugs had been dismissed and faced disciplinary action.

“We are trying to get rid of the problem inside our units in order to set a good example to the public,” he said. “Some police officers were sacked when they were found to be involved with drugs. We cannot keep them because they committed crimes.”

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Centre for Development and Peace, yesterday welcomed the move, noting that it is compulsory for officials at all levels to stay clean.

“All provincial police chiefs should take serious action against drug crimes, and it is time to start with officers in their units,” he said. “Those who test positive for drug use must be dealt with according to the law just like ordinary people.”

Mr Kim Eng also called on the authorities to form a taskforce and conduct regular drug tests on police officers.

In January, the National Authority for Combating Drugs reported that authorities cracked down on 8,018 drug cases and arrested 16,232 people, including 310 foreigners, last year.

The report noted that police confiscated 533 kilograms of drugs last year, up from 296 kilograms in 2017.