New drive will monitor police phone records

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New drive will monitor police phone records

In an effort to weed out police corruption, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Sunday that it will require written consent from its 35,000 officers to have their telephone records checked by the agency on a regular basis.

While some officers complained that the action deeply infringes upon their privacy, the Seoul Police said they are taking extreme measures to bring down possible collusions between police officers and people who try to buy their support.

The Seoul Police are especially seeking consent from officers involved in the crackdown on the illegal sex trade, as these officers come in frequent contact with sex-business owners and are particularly vulnerable to scandal.

In the past, some officers have been dismissed on charges of looking after sex-business owners by taking bribes in return for tipping the owners to temporarily close their doors before a prostitution sting.

Starting this month, if telephone records show that police officers called sex-business owners and prostitutes during any official crackdown period and they cannot give a reason why, the officers will face disciplinary measures including suspension or dismissal, Seoul Police said.

“Checking the telephone records of police officers is a justifiable order by police leadership and officers should follow the order,” a Seoul police inspector said.

A presidential decree governing police in Korea states that officers should obey the laws, fulfill their official duty, and follow any regulations that govern relations with their superiors and subordinates.

The latest measure reflects President Lee Myung-bak’s pledge to deter corruption among public-service workers and improve their moral fiber.

A government official who asked not to be named said the measure is especially timely as President Lee enters his third year of office and the regional election looms in June. He said it’s important for the government to be sure that public-service workers aren’t neglecting their duties.

Other government agencies are also joining the anti-corruption movement.

The National Tax Service activated inspection teams to investigate suspicious dealings by tax men and the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office also declared a war on corruption recently.


By Kang In-sik, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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