Tue, Jul 09, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Ideas for improving protection for police

ByYang Yung-nane 楊永年

A police officer was stabbed to death at Chiayi Railway Station on Wednesday during a quarrel that erupted after a passenger was found to have boarded a train without a ticket, leading the Ministry of the Interior to dispatch 260 fully equipped police officers to enhance security, which was praiseworthy.

Many people think that the tragedy had to do with the passenger trying to avoid paying for a ticket, how ticket controls were conducted, how the police officer conducted himself, and training and education. These views are correct, but they can be connected or resolved with the help of technology.

There are many ways to avoid paying a ticket: Ticket gate controls can be lax, a passenger might know how to enter a station without paying and a transfer might make it easier to enter the platform.

Passengers skipping payment can be avoided through manual ticket controls, but using technology to conduct checks is another way the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) could consider to prevent passengers avoiding buying a ticket.

There might be ways to adjust ticket controls by TRA conductors. It would be worth investigating whether controls have to be conducted by the conductor or if they can be conducted using technology.

Compared with mass transportation ticket procedures in other nations, control rates in Taiwan are quite high, which means that personnel costs are quite high. It is worth studying and discussing whether technology could be used to change and improve traditional ticket controls.

In theory, before police take action, they should have information about a suspect, including whether they are carrying a weapon or contraband. If a fast and effective detection device can be developed to provide the officer with such information, it would probably lower the risks for police officers.

Hand-to-hand combat is always risky, but as things sometimes happen fast, it could perhaps be possible to use information technology to remind the officer to pay close attention to the situation while they are on their way to an incident.

Police training and education includes on-the-job training, training on promotion, continuous training and pre-duty training. Given the popularity of technology and artificial intelligence, it would perhaps be possible to combine information and communications technology to provide police officers with timely and effective training programs and ways of acting on duty.

To avoid similar tragedies, one important issue that the police authorities should pay attention to is how to quickly develop a “case example” training program or perhaps a short film to help officers in the conduct of their duties and improve their efficiency.

The stabbing was a shock to the public. The most urgent task now is to find ways to avoid a repeat of the tragedy. The deceased officer’s mother was right when she expressed the hope that her son would be last officer to die in the line of duty.

This is why developing new technologies or using existing ones to integrate information and communications technology with police duties is the only way to further improve the safety of police officers in the line of duty.

Yang Yung-nane is the director of National Cheng Kung University’s Research Center of Science and Technology Governance.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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