[EDITORIALS]Violence against policeThere is something very unsettling in how police officers ― the very symbol of authority ― are being attacked increasingly by the people they are meant to protect. One officer is brain dead after being assaulted. Less horrifying but still serious, police officers on the scene of a fight by drunken restaurant patrons were kicked, and an officer at a protest demonstration ended up with broken teeth after being punched in the face. The number of obstruction of justice cases involving the police was 878 a month on average two years ago, but it is now up to 919.
This is a phenomenon that cannot be tolerated in a country of law and order. Police officers must not be subject to this kind of behavior. Something is seriously wrong when the police are assaulted in these numbers. But the police should also look back to see why they have come to command so little respect from the public.
The police must first put their discipline in order and ensure that their code of conduct is credible. The police must shed the practice of often ignoring precedent in their handling of cases and stop trying to align themselves with the thinking of the administration that happens to be in power.
The way the police handled the case of a Protestant minister who burned the North Korean flag and shouted anti-communist messages during last week’s sports competition in Daegu is a good example. The handling of the protester only damaged police credibility. They were acting in a way that they know the government would approve.
The police are not entirely innocent when officers are assaulted by individuals who are requesting help. It is not difficult to see that police will get little respect from the public when the country knows that officers have been involved in the kidnapping of a woman and bribery in a request to move a police outpost. The police will have to reform to weed out misconduct before the public respects police authority.
But the public should also understand and help, and violence against the police should never be tolerated. Our lives will be safer when we work for law and order together.