Police chiefs are suspected of cover-up

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Police chiefs are suspected of cover-up

Police investigations into the case of two police officers who had sex with high school students they were assigned to protect have revealed that even the police chiefs of precincts knew about this behavior and let them resign without any consequences.

What’s more, the ongoing investigation now involves the commissioners of the Korean National Police Agency and the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency.

When a former police chief of a police precinct exposed the two officers on Facebook on Friday, many authorities said the same thing: “We didn’t know about this.”

Busan Metropolitan Police officials denied having known about the case at all, until they saw the Facebook post.

The Saha and Yeonje police precincts, where the officers worked, denied having known about the case when they processed the officers’ resignations and let them go without any punitive measures.

The officers were school-assigned police officers, or SPOs, a system implemented from 2012 after a student in Daegu committed suicide after suffering severe bullying.

But investigations by Busan police reveal that the supervisors knew about their subordinates’ conduct when dismissing them, and an inspection team dispatched from the Korean National Police Agency on Tuesday also uncovered that at the time of the corporals’ resignations, even the police chiefs knew that the men had sex with high school girls.

According to the inspection team, an inspector of the Saha Police Precinct who supervised the 33-year-old corporal received a report from a female officer that the corporal had sex with a high school girl. After confirming the fact with the corporal, the inspector then reported this to his superior, a superintendent, on June 8. On the same day, the superintendent reported the case to his superior, the police chief of the Saha Police Precinct. Jeong Jin-gyu, the police chief, thus knew the full story when the precinct decided to process the corporal’s resignation on June 15.

The Saha police had initially told Busan authorities that the inspector did not report the case to his superior.

National police investigations have also revealed that Yeonje Police Precinct’s police chief knew about its 31-year-old corporal’s reason for resigning.

According to authorities, the corporal received a report from a youth protection agency on May 7 saying that the high school girl he had sex with had tried to commit suicide. On that day, he met with the agency and reported his conduct to his supervisor at the Yeonje Police Precinct.

This supervisor reported the case to a superintendent that same day, on May 7. The superintendent then sent a report to the Yeonje Police Precinct police chief, Kim Sung-sik, which was received two days later.

So when the corporal’s resignation was processed on May 17, Kim had known about it for eight days. Yet Yeonje police had initially said they only found out about the case on May 23, when the youth protection agency made a report to them.

Both Kim and Jeong have been discharged from their positions and may face criminal charges, but the probe into police force’s web of lies does not stop there.

The youth protection agency that contacted the Yeonje police corporal on May 7 had also called the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency on May 9, and reported on the corporal’s sexual conduct with a high school student.

Yet again, Busan police had so far claimed to have only found out about the incident after the Facebook post on Friday.

Authorities within the Korean National Police Agency actually caught word of the corporals behavior and reportedly confirmed the charges in early June, but its commissioner, Kang Sin-myeong, allegedly did not find out about it until after the Facebook post went viral.

In addition to Kang, Busan Metropolitan Police Agency Commissioner Lee Sang-sik, and Korean National Police Agency Deputy Commissioner Lee Chul-sung, are also being investigated.

BY KANG SEUNG-WOO, PARK MIN-JE [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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