Someone needs to reform us: Police

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Someone needs to reform us: Police

After a string of scandals involving the police, the National Police Agency is considering sweeping reforms in the way the force is structured, managed and recruited, a senior police officer told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday. It may even abolish the elite Korea National Police University to bring some fresh wind to the force.

The police faces a harsh spotlight after a string of incidents in January. This included the suicide of a 20-year-old riot policeman after he was physically abused by superiors, and six other young riot policemen fleeing their posts because of similar abuse. There was also the arrest of the head of the violent crimes section at the Daejeon Metropolitan Police Agency for allegedly murdering his mother for insurance money, and the arrest of former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak over suspicions of taking bribes from a businessman.

Since Jan. 20, according to the source, the police agency has held a series of meetings with some 50 senior policemen. The consensus was the service cannot resolve problems by itself and requires supervision from an advisory organization.

On Jan. 24, the agency proposed to the Senior Secretary to the President for Political Affairs “a committee for police reform”, a supervisory organization controlled by the president, the prime minister or civil organizations, the source said.

The agency also suggested outsiders should be considered for the position of National Police Agency Commissioner. Currently, the commissioner is chosen from four deputy commissioners in the agency.

According to the source, the agency further suggested abolishing the state-run Korea National Police University, in order to rid the force of elitism and a sense of privilege among senior officers. Graduates of the academy usually become senior policemen.

In response, the Blue House said it will “review the proposal and encourage police officers to discuss more specific plans”.

“Since 1999, a series of reforms has been carried out in police stations nationwide, but a number of internal problems with policemen still remain, causing the public to distrust the police,” a senior police officer said. “The issue of hiring an outsider for the National Police Agency Commissioner has been proposed since 2005, but no one could really push the issue, because it is something like an Achilles tendon to the police.”


By Song Ji-hye, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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