Police head quits over murder case
The national police chief offered to resign Monday after officers came under fire for mishandling a recent murder case.
“I deeply apologize,” National Police Agency Commissioner General Cho Hyun-oh said during a news conference, saying he felt responsibility for the police’s failure to protect the life of a citizen.
Public opinion was critical of police following the revelation that they responded tardily and unprofessionally to an emergency call from a 28-year-old woman in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, who had been abducted and raped by a Korean Chinese man on April 1. He later killed her, and was finally apprehended as he chopped up the victim’s body to dispose of it.
“I pray for the soul of the victim and pay my condolences to the bereaved family,” the police chief said.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said President Lee Myung-bak will accept Cho’s resignation after Wednesday’s National Assembly elections.
Seo Cheon-ho, 51, commissioner of the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, also tendered his resignation over the murder.
Cho said an internal probe showed the police’s 112 Crime Report Center failed to grasp the situation and reacted negligently, while officers made a desultory search for the crime scene and made false reports to cover up their mistakes.
He said those who failed to fulfill their duty properly will have to take responsibility, including himself.
“After learning the whole situation, I concluded the faults were too grave to be overlooked. My resignation will not solve all of the problems, but I will step down to take responsibility,” Cho said, adding he had made up his own mind without prior discussion with the presidential office.
The police head said he was accountable for having incapable and careless officers stationed at the important crime call center.
He said until his resignation is accepted, he will overhaul the system to improve officers’ ability to respond to crime reports, and dispatch capable people to such centers.
Regarding a compensation suit the victim’s bereaved family plans to file, Cho said police would pay sufficient compensation to them. “Apart from state compensation, police officers are raising money for them,” he said.
Testimony from the bereaved family and an internal inspection showed the police response was a total failure.
Police quoted the suspect, Wu Yuanchun, as confessing that he killed the woman about six hours after kidnapping her and taking her to his house.
It was found that police officers were very near to Wu’s house about minutes after she called for help. But they failed to notice any sign of a crime.
Her sister, who participated in the search in a patrol car about two hours after the victim’s call, said the officers parked the car at a site, which they later learned was about 20 meters away from the crime scene, and dozed.
“I was worried so much, but they said they couldn’t search houses because it was late, saying they would do so in the morning,” the sister told a local daily. “If the officers had blown the siren several times, Wu might not have damaged the body that severely,” she said.
The Suwon police station in charge of investigating the crime also didn’t report the case to the provincial police agency immediately.