Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Police brass defend raid on gangster

TOUGH CHARACTER The officers could neither wait for dawn nor call in helicopter support as the criminals were wary and heavily armed, officials said

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Criminal Investigation Bureau Deputy Commissioner Chen Yi-feng (陳逸峰) yesterday tried to defend his fellow police officers in the face of widespread public complaints over the failure to locate and arrest fugitive Chan Hsi-ming (張錫銘) after a series of gunbattles on Monday.

"We will make sure that mistakes will not happen again in the future. However, everybody did their best during the combat with the gang members on Monday," Chen said.

Chen said that Monday's raid on a farm in Taliao, Kaohsiung County was a well-organized action by the police and officers from different units worked well together. Chang, however, is tricky and very careful, making the police's mission difficult, he said.

Reports in the local Chinese-language media criticized the police for not using helicopters from their aviation department during the raid or during Chang's escape.

Chen said the decision was made not to use the helicopters because the gang was known to possess rifles.

"They [Chang and his gang] have M-16s and AK-47s. Both kinds of guns are capable of shooting down a helicopter if the chopper's height is below 300m," Chen said.

Some police officers apparently wanted to wait until dawn on Tuesday to raid the house where the gangsters were hiding. Chen said a delay was next to impossible.

"Chang is a sensitive person. He usually relocates every two hours or so. If we waited, we might have lost his whereabouts again so we had to strike," he said.

Chen also criticized the media, saying all the reporters and photographers wandering around the scene of the raid had prevented police officers from firing at will during the gunbattle with Chang's gang.

"We did not restrict reporters' ability to do their jobs but their wandering around did cause concerns that we might accidentally injure innocent people during the shootout," Chen said. "However, we should have se-cured the area anyway."

The bureau has withdrawn its SWAT team from the search for Chang and fellow fugitive Chen Chin-hsiung (陳進雄) but local police officers from Tainan and Chiayi counties are continuing to look for the pair in the Alishan area.

As of press time yesterday, the pair remained at large.

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