The National Police Agency issued a report Aug. 16 showing that police departments nationwide have been plagued by a series of irregularities involving police officers and workers. When you take into account the nearly 300,000 people working for the police force, the known irregularities are probably only a tiny number of the total. The police must do more to educate individual officers and workers on the high standards expected of them.
More important, law enforcement authorities need to strictly examine whether the police’s organizational culture is lenient toward problematic behavior of inside people.
In the January-June period, 205 police officers and workers were subjected to disciplinary action, including dismissal, suspension from duty, wage cuts and reprimands. This is the first time since 2003 that more than 200 police officers and workers have been disciplined in the first six months of a year.
Among them, 83 were fired or suspended from duty — a record number for the first half of a year since 2000 when the police started a nationwide reform campaign following the coverup involving stimulant drug use by a Kanagawa police officer in 1996. The coverup incident surfaced in 1999. Five high-ranking officials from the Kanagawa prefectural police, including its head, were found guilty in 2000 of covering up the crime.
In addition, 51 police officers and workers were arrested in the first six months of 2012. If this trend continues, the number of police officers and workers arrested in all of 2012 may hit a record number. In July, an officer of the Fukuoka prefectural police was arrested on suspicion of selling information on an investigation to a gangster.
In August, an officer of the Osaka prefectural police was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a girl after making her drink an alcoholic beverage. This incident occurred at a beach where he was swimming with four colleagues.
In addition to problems attributable to individual police officers and workers’ behavior, organizational problems have surfaced. One example is the murder incident on Dec. 16, 2011, in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, in which a man killed the mother and grandmother of a woman he had stalked. It surfaced earlier this year that, although the woman and her father had asked the Narashino police station of the Chiba prefectural police in October and November 2011 to investigate the stalker, the police delayed the investigation while officers concerned took an office trip.
Only two days after they started their investigation, the murder happened. It also surfaced that the Nagasaki and Mie prefectural police did not respond to the father’s and daughter’s request.
It is imperative that individual officers, workers and the police as a whole become more sensitive to the needs of people and to quickly take necessary action. A more thorough education and training regimen are in order.