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Police school alumni`s statement inappropriate

Posted April. 20, 2001 18:19,   


The statement issued by the general alumni association of Korea National Police University regarding the series of developments involving the excessive force used by the police to crackdown on striking unionists of Daewoo Motor in Incheon has emerged as a bone of contention. The statement released amid the controversy over the dismissal of National Police Agency chief Lee Moo-Young defended Lee`s position, while opposing his resignation. It described the criticism of the police brutality as a scheme to undermine the national police. In short, we are of the view that the association`s statement is inappropriate and not helpful for the settlement of the dispute. Rather it will deepen people`s distrust of the police. With the issuance of the statement under the name of the alumni association, a self-elected elite police group, it is feared that this could spark friction between factions in the organization.

In the introduction to the statement, the association noted that it accepts humbly the public censure and apprehension over the excessive use of physical force by the riot police. However, the main context of the statement is far from expressing any self-reflection or regret over the incident. The statement continues by saying that censure of the police by all of society is depressing the morale of police officers, which can be interpreted as saying that public criticism of the excessive use of force is undermining the police.

Alarmingly, the statement declared that the association would resolutely reject any maneuvers to exploit the incident for strategic purposes. Despite the fact that, for a democratic nation, any call for sacking officials responsible for police brutality is a matter of course, the association counterattacked this as strategy. At the same time, the statement called for the implementation of reform of the police for the protection of human rights with the national police chief at the center. This amounts to pressure against the sacking of the police chief. While many lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties are demanding his resignation as a means of resolving the Daewoo incident, the association of police officers has come out to defend the police chief with the organized power of a specific school relationship. Is this maneuver itself not a strategy?

As some ruling quarters have pointed out, if the police commander is dismissed on account of the incident, the police will be demoralized and they will face more difficulties in coping with illegal demonstrations. Nonetheless, the police should refrain from defying public opinion using their collective power. If the police organization attempts to press its demand with collective actions, the government`s authority will be rendered useless in the end. The police chief ought to make his position clear about not only the riot police`s brutal suppression of the Daewoo unionists but also the association`s collective activities. If he does so, such improper collective actions concerning the media`s criticism of personnel affairs as committed by the association will not recur in the future.