Police under fire after meek response to gangs

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Police under fire after meek response to gangs


As 130 gang members from rival groups brawled in front of an Incheon hospital Friday night, the nation’s top police official was left unaware of the violence until he heard about it from local media.

The incident, during which one person was stabbed, occurred near the funeral wing of Gachon University Gil Hospital, one of Incheon’s major hospitals, as some 100 people inside attended various funerals.


The National Police Agency said that Commissioner Cho Hyun-oh was not told of the incident and that Incheon police had tried to cover up the brawl.

“Police officers who were scared of the large number of gang members and were unable to do their job have no reason to exist,” Cho told his staff, according to local media. “We don’t need that kind of person in our organization.”

Witnesses told media outlets that the roughly 70 police officers who arrived at the scene after they were called only kept watch over the gang members for about two hours, even as scuffles broke out, until the standoff escalated into a stabbing, at which point police moved in and dispersed the crowd.

Police only arrested the attacker. Police said they could not make arrests immediately because they were initially not committing crimes.

“High-ranking police officials in Incheon weren’t informed of the incident as well so the National Police Agency wasn’t either,” a police official told media.

Another police official offered a possible explanation for the failure of local police to alert their superiors.

“Sometimes police officers are so busy handling a situation that they often delay reporting incidents to their seniors. Those who are at the scene often have a hard time deciding whether they should report it to top-level officials or not.”

Cho told reporters yesterday that he would tighten discipline in the nation’s police force.

“I have nothing to say about the [lax] discipline of police officers,” Cho said. “We will root out those who didn’t do their duty actively and decide the level of punishment against those who should take responsibility for managing police officers.”

The National Police Agency has already dismissed the chief of Namdong District Police and punished senior police officials in the precinct as well.

The agency also said that it would form a special team to target gangs in Incheon, the port city on the country’s west coast. Members of the team will also aim to crack down on gangs nationwide until the end of this year.

“We also encouraged precincts in other cities to form a team to arrest gangs,” a National Police Agency official said.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합뉴스]

조현오 "조폭과 전쟁… 총 쏴서라도 제압해야"

"부정부패 척결 못하면 승진 할당 줄일 것"

조현오 경찰청장이 조직 폭력배와 전쟁을 선포하며 총을 포함한 모든 장비를 적극적으로 사용하라고 25일 지시했다.

조현오 청장은 이날 정례 기자간담회에서 "올해 말까지 경찰은 조폭과 전쟁을 할 것"이라면서 "조폭을 제압하는 과정에서 필요하다면 모든 장비·장구를 동원하도록 할 것"이라고 말했다.

조 청장은 최근 인천 장례식장에서 조폭 사이에 칼부림이 나는 과정에서 경찰이 제대로 대응하지 못한 데 대해 "두렵다고 뒤꽁무니를 빼면 경찰이냐. 총은 뭐하러 들고 다니느냐"고 목소리를 높이면서 "(현장에서) 총기라도 과감하게 사용했어야 했다"고 질타했다.

조 청장은 "조폭과 전쟁 과정은 인권이라는 차원에서 접근하지 않겠다"면서 "동네 목욕탕이나 사우나 등 공공장소에서 다른 사람들에게 불안감을 조성하면 경범죄로 처벌할 근거가 있다"고 말했다.

조 청장은 "(관리 대상) 조폭 5천451명이 생계 수단을 무엇으로 하는지도 철저하게 추적할 것"이라면서 "건축회사 등 기업 활동을 영위하는 조폭도 파헤치겠다"고 강조했다.

그는 이어 "경찰차장이 태스크포스 팀장을 맡고 경찰청장이 일주일에 한 번씩 내부 비리 척결회의를 진행할 것"이라면서 "교통사고 처리나 장례식장, 각종 허가 과정서 구조적인 비리를 찾아낼 것"이라고 말했다.

그는 "부정부패를 척결하는 실적을 지방청별로 따져 인천청이나 서울청 등 잘하지 못하는 곳에는 총경이나 경정 승진 할당량을 과감하게 줄일 것"이라면서 "부정부패를 적극적으로 파헤쳐 공개하고 단죄하는 모습을 보여야 뿌리를 뽑을 수 있다"고 말했다.

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