Police vow to root out corruption
By Kim Rahn
Regional police agencies will have a special unit for internal audits as part of measures to root out corruption and irregularities committed by police officers.
A call center for civil appeals will also be set up separately from the 112 Crime Report Center, so that the latter can focus on serious crimes, according to reform measures announced by National Police Agency Commissioner General Kim Ki-yong, Monday.
The plan comes amid growing public criticism after it was alleged a bar owner regularly bribed policemen. Police faced more criticism for poorly handling the murder of a woman by a Korean-Chinese in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
“We’ll strengthen outside monitoring on police and enhance our own ability for internal inspections at the same time,” Kim said.
According to the scheme, each regional agency will have a department in charge of investigating corruption. It will also have an inspection committee comprised of five to seven anti-corruption experts or civic group members who will be entitled to recommend disciplinary actions on corrupt policemen to the agency.
To prevent collusion between police officers and those under surveillance such as bar owners, officers who have been stationed at a region for a long time will be transferred to other regions. Whistleblowers will be offered more incentives.
For officers who habitually receive bribes or entertainment from bar owners or other places in exchange for conniving at their misdeeds, the police authority will force them to pay fivefold the money they accepted.
These are countermeasures against die-hard collusion between policemen and those engaged in the bar industry. Earlier this year, 14 policemen were arrested and indicted for regularly taking kickbacks from a man who offered prostitution at his bars and operated illegal gambling parlors in southern Seoul.
They allegedly received between millions to tens of millions of won from the owner in return for alerting him of crackdown information in advance.
Police also plan to establish a new call center taking charge of civil appeals that are not urgent, with the new number 182.
The current 112 Crime Report Center will then deal with urgent crime reports.
“We’ll have a catchphrase, ‘112 for crime reports, 182 for civil petitions,’ to promote the new number,” Kim said.
The new call center plan is designed to distinguish emergency and non-emergency as each staffer at the 112 center had to deal with 48.5 calls per hour last year, with police receiving 2.84 million calls per day.
Partly because of such frequency of calls, staffers there sometimes fail to properly respond to really urgent calls, as seen in a murder case in Suwon on April 1 — a Korean-Chinese man abducted, raped and killed a Korean woman, and it was found the victim called 112 but staffers there responded tardily and unprofessionally. Former police chief Cho Hyun-oh resigned over the incident.
Police will also sternly punish those making prank calls to the centers, so that officers will not have to waste their time and effort. Fines for such callers will be increased to 600,000 won from the current 100,000 won.