MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines is starting to give its 110,000 policemen a makeover, trying to make them more like friendly neighbours than their current hard man image, the new national police chief said on Thursday.
Avelino Razon also said he has ordered police officers to stop wearing expensive jewellery, such as gold necklaces, bracelets, and rings, to remove suspicions they were corrupt.
For a start, Razon, said he has ordered 500 police officers to patrol the streets of the capital Manila with a baton and whistle. He has barred them from carrying assault rifles and has said handguns should be used only as a last resort.
The number will be increased progressively, Razon, who used to head the national police commando unit, told reporters.
“We’re trying to go back to the basics. We’ll be training our police officers to blow whistles instead of firing their handguns in the air to stop crime,” he said.
“It’s safer and less menacing to our citizens. I want the people to look at our police officers as their friends.”
Gun ownership is high in the Philippines, since the constitution allows people to own weapons. Most criminals are armed, and so are police and private security guards.
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