A police cadet standing to the left in a photograph has the muzzle of a handgun in his mouth, while a classmate standing next to him, in full uniform and smiling, levels a second handgun at the cadet's temple.
Other grainy photographs show similarly disturbing scenes of what Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (
"I received the pictures as a file attached to an anonymous e-mail from a Taipei police academy and I was just appalled," Chiang told the Taipei Times after displaying the photographs at a press conference in the legislature on Friday.
The file contained 30 photographs of cadets playing with guns by pointing them at one another, at a salamander and at other random targets.
Other pictures showed cadets viewing pornography in class and drinking alcohol in their dormitories, he said.
"My goal in holding such a press conference was to urge the National Police Agency to better educate our police and investigate why such breaches in discipline are occurring," Chiang said by telephone yesterday.
Responding to Chiang's allegations that police cadets are poorly trained, Taiwan Police College training director Chen Hung (
But, Chen added, it is possible that cadets horse around with guns and take photos when instructors are not present.
"We will enforce discipline," Chen said.
Even if the firearms shown in the photos are merely pellet guns, the cadets' actions reveal a disturbing lack of discipline in handling sidearms and are indicative of a severe lack of gun training among police officers nationwide, Chiang said.
He cited two separate cases last week in Tainan in which officers lost their guns to dangerous criminals because of poor judgment, saying the photos were part of a disturbing trend.
In one case, two suspects in a high-speed police chase crashed their vehicle into a median. In the ensuing struggle with police, one suspect snatched a policeman's gun and used it to shoot at the officer after the officer had approached the smashed vehicle.
Although the police officer managed to escape injury, the armed suspect also shot at a passing driver in an attempt to hijack a vehicle.
The injured driver swerved off the road into a ditch and was killed.
The suspects succeeded in hijacking a different vehicle and escaped. Police nabbed one of the suspects on Tuesday, but not before arresting the wrong person first -- a mentally challenged Tainan man -- and releasing him after apologizing to him and his family.
"The pictures are just one of many examples of how too many police officers just don't know how to handle their sidearms," Chiang said.
Taiwanese police are notorious for their poor firearms training and tendency to be trigger happy, he added.
In February last year, a gunshot fired by a policeman in Tainan missed a suspect and killed a 14-year-old girl who was watching the dramatic scene unfold from approximately 70m away.
Last September, a wild car chase in Taipei ended when police fired off more than 50 rounds at a fleeing suspect's vehicle, riddling the suspect, who was wanted for burglary, with fatal gunshot wounds.