Emergency system needs fixingThe rape and murder of a woman in her 20s in Suwon, Gyeonggi, last Sunday underscores the poor police and public safety services in our society. The victim dialed the police hot line 112 with cries for help, but when the officers finally arrived at the scene, she had already been brutally murdered. Moreover, police tried to cover their mistakes with insipid lies.
The transcript of the conversation demonstrates the inefficiency and worthlessness of the police hot line. The victim told the operator at the 112 emergency center that she was being assaulted at the attacker’s home near a playground next to an elementary school with specific details about the location. Despite the urgency of the situation, the operator lamely asked her to describe the perpetrator and sought confirmation of the address. The police dispatched a team of nine officers to locate her mobile phone. Despite having two extra teams, they all failed to find the victim until it was too late. The police’s poor response and experience with emergencies has been exposed. U.S. police and fire departments have dispatchers to receive crime reports and calls. They are trained in communicating and coordinating necessary information and personnel to quickly dispatch necessary assistance and services in emergency situations.
But the telecommunication coordinator at the 112 call center merely read out the questions in the manual. Judging by the 112 call center operation regulations, the agents there are neither trained nor eager, as they are placed among retired officers or those who sought the position to be exempt from guard work. The manual also does not specify various responses to help victims.
Police action and investigation have been equally lax. Even as the caller specified she was in a house right across the playground, the police wasted time looking around the wrong places as if they were only pretending to do police work. They would not have been so relaxed if anyone they knew had been in trouble.
After the news broke, police lied about the communication time and said that the victim had not been clear about the location. Police also said that 35 officers and investigators were dispatched to the scene to search the area. But residents said they received no such visits from police.
The police must overhaul the emergency service system after an investigation is made into the incident. Those who are responsible must be punished and the entire emergency call and dispatch system should be revamped so that our society provides help when it is sought.