Police corporal Piyarat “Ploy” Poothong, 24, talks about how her life has changed since becoming a member of the “sweet troupe”, Thailand’s first all-female anti-riot squadron, which may also serve as bodyguards for Thailand’s first female prime minister.

What did you do before becoming a policewoman?
I lived in Nakhon Phanom with my parents who are both public servants. I went to Khon Kaen University and applied for work and travel programs in the United States, where I worked for a year. I just wanted to explore the world. I chose Florida because I fell in love with a picture of Miami on a postcard. I also love Winnie the Pooh, so I applied to work at Disneyworld in Orlando. It was really fun. I could go to any theme park for free.

How did you end up being a police corporal?
My mom wanted me to come back to Thailand, so she applied for this job for me, and called me to come back and take the entrance exam. I didn’t expect to get in, but I did.

Has it been a big change?
Absolutely! I’ve had to wake up at 5:30am to go running and do training drills. I had to train in the jungle, where I had to carry a five-kg machine gun and an eight-kg backpack on my shoulders. I went from being in the kitchen to making bombs and hanging from helicopters.

How do you feel now?
I love it. It’s really fun. It’s not an experience that many people get to have. I used to hate cops because I was arrested once, and the cop would only release me if I gave him my phone number. It was so terrible. I even told my friends at school that if they had a cop for a boyfriend, I wouldn’t talk to them anymore. But now I am a cop myself. I also realized that there are good cops and bad cops. I just do my best.

How does your family feel about all this?
My mom seems very satisfied by all my training and by the fact that I’ve lost 18 kg. Seriously, though, I know that they are relieved that I have a stable job which is good for my future. It doesn’t pay a lot of money but if you’re not greedy, you will have a good life.

What sorts of missions will you undertake?
It will vary according to our orders. We’re anti-riot police, so our job is mostly dealing with people. I was once pelted with pla ra [fermented fish] when I was trying to disperse a protest in Bangkok. It’s even my job to put my finger in the vagina or anus of female criminals to search for drugs. We have more and more female criminals these days, and male cops can’t do those searches as it violates the rights of the suspect.

What does your boyfriend say about your job?
He’s actually in a S.W.A.T. team so we understand each other’s duty.

How do you feel about our new female prime minister who you might have to protect?
I think she’s smart and has the stregnth to be a leader. The rights of women in society may be better now that we have a female leader.

What’s your next dream?
I want to open a coffee shop next to Mekong River in my home town. But I have to save money first.


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