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Without Budget Considerations, the Emerging Automatic Promotion System for Police Officers

Without Budget Considerations, the Emerging Automatic Promotion System for Police Officers

Posted December. 09, 2005 07:38,   


Controversy is spreading over the amendment of the National Public Service Law for Office, which automatically promotes officers by stages from a patrolman to a police lieutenant after one has worked a certain number of years. Fueling the controversy is the fact that there is no plan to utilize 20,000 officers that will automatically be promoted in three years. Also, discussion over special favors is arising inside the office about promoting regular officers to executive positions without qualifying exams. Currently, the number of police lieutenants is 10,000 (out of total 94,000 policemen which combat police and auxiliary police excluded).

This amendment was adopted at the general meeting on December 8 after being passed unanimously by the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee on December 7.

A Substitute Policy to Stop Discontent-

The police haven’t prepared any specific plan of action but to arrange promoted officers to areas handling practical works such as patrol parties and investigation parties of traffic accidents though tens of billions of won off additional budget would be used annually if the automatic promotion system is introduced.

Also, they haven’t provided any marked counter plans to the serious problem of the violation of human rights and insincere investigation due to the low-qualified judicial police officers who are able to request an arrest warrant.

“We have a plan to change the judgment standard of continuous promotion more strictly and to strengthen job education toward those promoted,” said an official of the Crime Investigation Division.

There are also some internal conflicts. A director of a police station from Korea National Police University said, “Those who have endured awful competition to be promoted to a police lieutenant are already complaining about the saying of ‘policemen are promoted by luck.’”

However, a police sergeant who have worked over 20 years since being a patrol man said, “I feel I realized my desire now. Also, there were many fellow officers who were depressed because of the ‘impossibility’ of promotion.”

“When the number of police lieutenants becomes larger after several years, the automatic promotion of police inspectors must be requested. It is a stopgap policy only to pare down the discontent of non-executives without any fundamental reform in the police personnel system,” said Choi Eung-ryul, a police administration professor of DongGuk University.

The Background of the Amendment

The police lieutenants’ automatic promotion system was born out of the deformative rank system and internal conflict.

According to the criminal procedure code over police lieutenants, a judicial police is an executive who has a right to conduct and manage below a police sergeant, who is a judicial executive police, and also has a right to request a warrant. Unlike the graduates from Korean National Police University who passed through an executive training course, very few of those who began as patrolmen can become police lieutenants through strict exams and judgments.

Hence, there was a large voice of discontent among patrolmen because 70 percent of them could not become executives after working for over 30 years.

The Mugunghwa club, organized by 7,800 former and present patrolmen, pressed police leadership, announcing, “If our request cannot be accepted, we are not cooperating with the argument of investigation rights” and started to lobby to the ruling party as well as the opposition party.

Huh Jun-young, the Chief of the Korean National Police Agency who considered police officers in low ranks through the introduction of a promotion quota for patrolmen after assumption, was negative to the automatic promotion system at first but changed his attitude as soon as the political bloc stepped forward with the amendment.

From this, the members of the in-party and the out-party point out that it could be a policy as a concession to the moderates being conscious of influential police officers for next year’s local election.

needjung@donga.com woogija@donga.com