Don’t move the NFS to WonjuSnails and crimes have one thing in common: They always leave a trail. Crime scene investigations must be immediately conducted to solve the case and catch the criminal. For accuracy, it is important to collect evidence before it’s contaminated.
However, the National Forensic Service, which is in charge of pathological and scientific investigations, is in jeopardy as it may lose fundamental accessibility to crime scenes.
The agency has been listed among public offices subject to relocation to a new municipality in Wonju, Gangwon, as a part of the previous administration’s relentless efforts to achieve more balanced development of the nation.
But that means the NFS would have to move its current headquarters in Seoul to the countryside, according to the government’s plan. However, more than half of all criminal cases take place in Seoul and in areas near the capital.
Even if it leaves a branch office in Seoul, the NFS would have to move corpses in question or other forensic evidence for advanced and complex examination to its new headquarters 150 kilometers (93 miles) away.
Last year, the NFS conducted 153,000 scientific investigations. Against this backdrop, the cost of storing evidence and moving it to the new headquarters won’t be small. More worrisome, however, is that a large amount of crucial evidence will most likely be contaminated and even harmed because of deferred investigation and examination.
The relocation is a typical example of decisions made by know-nothing bureaucrats who work behind desks all day.
In pursuing the establishment of characteristic municipalities for decentralization, the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration made a faulty decision to include the NFS in the package without considering the type of work the agency deals with.
The Lee Myung-bak administration now lamely says that it didn’t closely study the inevitable consequences of moving the NFS when it readjusted the original plan because of a lack of money and manpower.
It is not too late to undo the mistake. The government should scrap the plan to move the NFS to Wonju as soon as possible. It should not go down a wrong path that would obviously end up wasting tax money and resources.
The Lee administration must come to a reasonable conclusion to keep our forensic investigative organization intact and in Seoul, before it’s too late.