Kim Jong-yang, former head of the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, was elected as chief of Interpol at the annual congress held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday (local time). It is the first time ever for a Korean national to head the international organization of 194 countries that facilitate police cooperation, which is a victory in the history of Korean police.
Interpol facilitates international police cooperation by research, location identification and investigation when a suspect escapes out of the country. The head of the organization must be equipped with professional knowledge, extensive network and diplomatic skills, as the role will have to mediate possible conflicts among member countries. Kim has been known for his diplomatic skills in pervious posts in Los Angeles and director-general of Foreign Affairs at the Korea Police Agency.
With such a figure promoting the police standing in the international community, it is now time for the police to focus on raising public trust towards police at home. The public view towards the police is not entirely favorable. They still have images of the police abusing their power and violating human rights during the years of dictatorship several decades ago. There are also news of corruption and indiscipline. Controversy over the fairness of investigation on political issues, such as the "Druking" case is still quite evident.
The police face an unprecedented era of change. Prosecutors’ rights to command exclusive investigation has been scrapped. A new law in which police assume primary rights to investigate is awaiting legislation. Under the Moon Jae-in administration, some investigative rights on criminal cases are being considered to be shifted to the provincial police. Police should change to assume growing power and respond to new challenges.