The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday called for reform of the police following a series of incidents which the party said showed a lack of discipline and proper training in police departments nationwide.
On April 16, 10 men invaded Taipei’s Zhonglun Police Station and damaged property, but none were held accountable and accusations of malpractice at the station arose after it was revealed that surveillance footage of the incident had been deleted.
On April 23, an officer at Taoyuan’s Jhungli Police Station handcuffed and detained a music teacher for nine hours after she refused to identify herself and described her detention as “stupid.”
Chao Chieh-yu (趙介佑), who was expelled from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Saturday for alleged involvement in drug trafficking, racketeering, assault and kidnapping related to organized crime groups, was reported to have in 2018 used his connections to meet with a friend who was being held in the cells at Taipei Police Department’s Beitou Precinct.
The officer at Jhungli Police Station cited Article 6 of the Police Power Exercise Act (警察職權行使法) to justify his actions, which authorizes officers to verify the identity of people in “designated public places, roads and checkpoints,” NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said.
However, the same article also states that a verification of identity should be made “only when considered necessary to prevent crimes or deal with events that may affect major public safety or social order,” he said.
“In other words, the police are allowed by law to ask people in ‘crime hotspots’ to identify themselves. However, there are no specific standards that constitute ‘crime hotspots,’” Chiu said.
To avoid disputes, the National Police Agency should conduct an analysis of cases where people refuse to subject themselves to inspection, which would help it to stipulate specific guidelines governing police inspections in designated places and train police officers to handle various situations, he said.
The agency should also review whether it is appropriate to frequently arrest people at checkpoints for insulting officers whenever there are verbal disagreements, as that only increases the tension between the police force and civilians, he added.
NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said that Chao meeting with a prisoner in Beitou and posting a photograph on social media exposed the connections between police, political parties and organized crime.
NPP deputy caucus whip Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) criticized officers at Zhonglun Police Station for not arresting the men who invaded the station and damaged a computer, as well as for deleting video footage of the incident.
“How can the public trust the police to enforce the law if key evidence goes missing or is destroyed?” Chen asked.
Hsiao Ren-hao (蕭仁豪), a criminal investigator and a member of the advocacy group Taiwan Police Union, said that police training and the performance evaluation system affects how officers conduct inspections, adding that they are more likely to enforce laws unfairly if they are related to how they would be evaluated.
“Police officers at Beitou Precinct and Zhonglun Police Station were penalized and transferred to different jobs without a substantial investigation,” Hsiao said.
The union mentioned these problems at the National Congress on Judicial Reform in 2018, but the National Police Agency has done nothing or little about them, he said.
“Recent events show there are many unresolved issues in the work environment facing law enforcement officers. The government and political parties should support the union, which can raise issues and seek to resolve them,” he added.
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