The speaker at this month’s meeting ot the Expats Club at the Le Meredian Hotel was Laurie Simmonds, a Foreign Police Liaison Officer with the Chiang Mai police. Launched in September 2013, the FPLO are here to help foreigners living and visiting in Chiang Mai to communicate with the Royal Thai Police. The remit of the group covers all normal police matters from immigration to criminal investigation..
The team is made up from both foreign and Thai staff, speaking multiple languages including Thai, English, Chinese, French, German and Japanese.
Born and bred in Sydney, Simmons worked for the Australian police for 24 years.
“In the late seventies the Australian government was into multiculturalism. I was sent to learn Thai. Back then I didn’t even like pepper on my food!” Simmons developed a passion for a language in a country he had never even been to. “I impressed the commanders with my language ability and got into helping on human trafficking cases.”
After working in Thailand for a number of international cases and marrying a Thai lady, Simmons eventually relocated to Chiang Mai for early retirement, though there was no golf, smoking pipe and cosy slippers for this young pensioner. Helping out with a couple of incidents with the local bobbies quickly became a regular 30 to 50+ hour week assisting the tourist police.
“I’ve been to every type of incident, from lost passports, domestic rows to road accidents, suicides, murders and narcotics. There are many things which are simply a miscommunication.”
“Everyone asks me what I get out of this,” explains Simmons. “Recently there was a very violent incident; my friend wondered why on earth I would want to be involved with such danger whilst not even getting paid. But for me it’s not about the money. I have a decent pension and businesses. For me it’s about giving something back to the local community. Yes it can be risky, and not everyone can do it. It takes a certain person to deal with dead bodies and drunk people.”
It was an interesting insight into policing in this city. Unfortunately there was no time for questions as the speaker went overtime with his presentation.