Candidates’ silence is a crimeThe recent spate of violent crime has raised concerns and doubt about the ability of police to serve and protect the public. In April, a woman in Suwon, Gyeonggi, was killed and chopped into pieces even after she called for help on the police hotline. In July, a 7-year-old girl in Tongyoung, South Gyeongsang, was kidnapped and killed, and the following month a housewife in Seoul was brutally victimized. In the same month, random street stabbings took place in Yeouido, western Seoul, and Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi.
Each time brutal crimes make news, politicians call for tougher steps to ensure public safety, but fail to come up with comprehensive measures. It appears that public safety might be at the bottom of the priority list for presidential candidates.
According to material submitted to Saenuri Party Rep. Kang Ki-youn by the National Police Agency, violent crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery surged to 610,000 reported cases last year from 540,000 in 2008.
Arrests, however, decreased to 380,000 from 410,000, suggesting that police manpower has failed to keep pace. Widening wealth inequalities, polarization and social conflict will likely exacerbate public jitters about social unrest and an increase in crime. Public safety directly affects the lives of people as much as security, the economy or welfare.
It requires government-level attention, but presidential candidates remain mum on the issue. In the campaign camps, there are no experts on law enforcement and public safety.
Because the campaign is primarily preoccupied with political themes of ideological wrangling, coalition building and social unity, fundamental issues that involve the everyday lives of ordinary people are pushed aside.
In contrast, public safety is prominent in the election platforms of American campaigns. In the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, the Democratic Party promised to strengthen community law enforcement and actions to prevent sex and family crimes, while the Republican Party vowed to root out child pornography and ban parole of serious criminals. Instead of rhetoric, they delivered specific proposals.
Presidential candidates here, too, should speak up on how they plan to revamp the law enforcement system to ensure public safety, orderly police investigations and other steps to stop senseless crimes. Without specifics, it would be deja vu all over again - the president reprimanding police officials only after a major crime occurs.