Policing the police

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Policing the police

The police are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the nation’s law enforcement hierarchy. They are, however, the part of the social justice system that common people come into contact with the most, meaning they have to work extra hard to ensure they maintain the public’s trust.

But recent revelations shed light on some disturbing incidents within the ranks of our police organization, eroding our trust in those who vow to serve and protect us.

The former chief of the National Police Agency has been arrested for corruption, while a combat police unit is under fire for alleged inhumane treatment of some junior colleagues. And most recently, a senior police official has been charged with murdering his mother to pocket insurance money and pay down gambling debt. To put it simply, the country’s police system is corrupt from top to bottom. On what grounds, therefore, can the police demand authority and expect trust from the public?

What is more shocking, however, is the numbness we have developed to charges of corruption within the nation’s police forces. That’s what happens when the incidents keep piling up. Former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak was arrested on charges of taking bribes from a businessman in return for helping him land a license to run makeshift canteens at construction sites. When the broker came under suspicion, the commissioner even advised him to flee abroad. With corruption at the very top of the command chain, what should we expect from the rest of the organization? Unsurprisingly, some 50 police officers are suspected of having questionable relationships with the broker as well.

The murder committed by a senior police official might have been prevented if we had a more structured, thorough training system in place as well as a network to identify potential problems within the police force.

In the United States, shady police recruits are kicked out, and psychological evaluations of current members are conducted frequently. Here, however, integrity and a commitment to social justice have evaporated as police officers struggle to get ahead of their colleagues.

The government should consider creating a special committee for police reform to unearth the underlying problems and come up with solutions. Private experts in the field and civil groups should also contribute to helping rebuild the police system.

An overhaul is sorely needed.

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