Worse than Keystone CopsCivilians were shocked by the news of a police officer conspiring in a bank robbery of a post office in Yeosu, South Jeolla. The 44-year-old officer is suspected of having orchestrated the raid, approaching the suspect with the idea and providing the photographs and details of the place of the crime.
He also taught the suspects tricks and ways to conceal evidence as well as keeping watch during the break-in. He is also suspected of having stolen money from a bank automated teller machine seven years ago with the same man and was among the investigators in the case. He was a criminal ringleader disguised as a police officer.
A few days earlier, a sex offender escaped from a police office in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, because the police had not handcuffed the man properly. He walked out after taking off the loose handcuffs.
Public safety in Seoul and the Gyeonggi area was compromised for five hours because a suspect was on the loose due to negligent police work. Two months ago a police officer also was arrested for colluding in a mob robbery.
The police have lost face completely. Police officers whose role is ensuring public order and safety turned out to be criminals and incompetent, letting criminal suspects slip away from their own stations. Who can entrust them with their lives and properties? Kim Ki-yong, commissioner of the National Police Agency, in a workshop with police chiefs of local offices across the nation commanded them to reinforce moral and organization discipline.
But just words won’t do. The series of shameful mishaps call for a stronger internal affairs presence and punitive actions against negligence in duty and police misconduct. Most of all, the shady connections between local police officers and criminals must be rooted out.
The National Police Agency recently decided to demand jurisdiction authority lie with the police in investigating criminal cases at the initial stage. The police will step back from the cases once they are forwarded to the public prosecutors’ office as a kind of compromise to settle the dispute over investigative authority with the prosecution.
The police also plan to propose an increase in manpower. Before it demands greater sovereignty and manpower, it will have to get its house in order first.
We dare not imagine the disastrous fallout if the police with greater investigative power join hands with criminal forces. What’s most urgent is for the police leadership to re-establish discipline and endeavor to regain public confidence.