[EDITORIALS]Let's protect the police

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[EDITORIALS]Let's protect the police

The attack and the slaughter of a police officer on special Chuseok duty at Geumam, Jeonju, North Jeolla province, is shocking and regrettable. The incident occurred during one of the two nationally celebrated holidays in an ambience far removed from crime. Additionally, there is the possibility of a second attack somewhere else since the assailant ran away with the officer's gun.

Crime experts note that the clean crime site -- devoid of fingerprints and other traces -- indicates that the assault may have been premeditated. The size of the weapon, the cut of the wound and the crude execution of the crime point to an attacker who was not a novice, investigators said.

The duty of the police is to protect the lives and property of citizens. The fact that a police station was raided, that an officer was murdered and that his gun was stolen translate into a lack of security. How can a police force protect its citizens if it cannot protect itself? And what kind of tragedy might the stolen weapon, normally used to protect citizens, wreak if it is used in a crime?

Another disturbing factor is that the police officer was in a station on a main street. Sixteen police officers were assigned there, on three shifts a day, aided by two riot officers. So there is less chance for overwork or fatigue than at many of the nation's 2,930 other police stations, some reportedly more understaffed than the one where the attack occurred. This adds to our concerns.

The use of three-shifts a day, implemented nationally last year, has resulted in a shortage of police officers. The 970 additional police officers needed for the three shifts to work have not yet been recruited.

Dilapidated facilities, such as the analog closed-circuit televisions installed at the stations, are another problem.

The primary responsibility for recruiting new officers and modernizing the facilities rests with the government. Those responsible must be dealt with sternly.

If the police authority is dealt a blow, as it has been with this case, then the primary victims are the citizens. The police must hunt vigilantly for the suspect so the public can rest assured.
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