Cops Told to Take Off Sunglasses While on Duty

BANGKOK —  “The eye is the lamp of the body; If your eyes are generous, your whole body will be full of light.” Thai police are now about to take that biblical passage seriously.

Bangkok police on duty are now advised to take off their shades and show their eyes whenever they converse with members of the public, a deputy metro police commander said Tuesday, citing the need for police to look more “friendly.”

“For Thai people, whenever someone wears sunglasses, they look suspicious,” Gen. Panurat Lakboon said in an interview. “Taking off sunglasses reduces your aggressive look. It shows sincerity in your eyes when you talk to the people. They will feel safe when they look at your face.”

The order for cops to show the windows to their souls was first issued Sunday by the Metropolitan Police Bureau, effective immediately. It bans officers from “wearing shades while on duty,” and instructs them to wear their uniform properly and maintain the new buzz cut.

The notice soon caused confusion and mockery on social media, where people said they were worried for traffic police who had to stand in the sunlight for most of their day.

But Panurat elaborated on the instruction in today’s interview, saying that traffic police are exempted. Police are also allowed to wear shades while riding motorcycles, he said, but they must take them off when they “stop, walk and talk” to civilians.

The deputy commander added that the order is the latest effort to improve the image of the police force.

“The way we dress, the way we talk and our appearance can impress people,” Panurat said. “These might be small issue, but they can create or cause loss of trust.”

The policy followed a new haircut regulation imposed on the police in November. A month later, King Vajiralongkorn also granted the force a new uniform color.