The ambiguous relationship between police officers and private investigation companies was exposed following recent incidents in which police were charged for leaking confidential information to private detectives in exchange for money.
Earlier this month, Banciao prosecutors ordered the arrest of Taipei police officer Pang Shih-lung (
Banciao prosecutors also detained Cheng Kuei-hua (鄭貴華), an employee at Far EasTone Telecommunications Co, on suspicion of leaking customers' phone numbers to private detectives.
The main suspect, Tsai Chin-yu (
Banciao District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Huang Yu-yuan (
The reporter is not a target in the investigation, Huang added.
Chang Hsueh-ming (張學明), lead prosecutor at the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Kaohsiung office, told the Taipei Times that police are not authorized to monitor private phone calls during investigations of individuals suspected of involvement in criminal activity. They can only do so if they file a request first with prosecutors and are granted approval, Chang said.
To facilitate investigations, some police officers have come to rely on private detectives to do the dirty work for them.
Some of these companies have advanced equipment, such as global positioning systems, to assist in their investigations, Chang said.
Because of the ambiguous relationship between police and private detectives, there have been cases of police conniving or colluding with private detectives.
For example, some private detectives would masquerade as telephone servicemen so they could install wire taps in private residences, Chang said.
Lin Ching-tsung (林慶宗), a prosecutor with the high court's Kao-hsiung office, said there also have been cases of corrupt police officers accepting bribes and monitoring calls for private investigators.
Last year, Kaohsiung district prosecutors uncovered a case in which police officers requested permission to monitor 12 private phones for a drug investigation, but only nine turned out to be genuine; the other three numbers turned out to be the targets of private detectives' investigations.
Lin added that some law enforcement officers try to sneak in "call monitoring" in their list of requests when investigating big cases of weapons or drug smuggling involving many individuals -- a fact which prosecutors often overlook.
He said that if the officers charged with leaking confidential information were convicted, they could face a maximum of three years in prison. Their suit is still pending in the Kaohsiung District Court.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung police officer Yeh Ming-te (葉銘德) said that investigating "extramarital affairs" is big business for many detective firms. Because adultery is defined as a crime under the Criminal Code, quite a number of people who suspect their spouses of infidelity turn to detectives for help.
Yeh said that when a couple who are suspected of having "illicit relations" check into a place, like a motel, detectives would sometimes call up the police to try to catch the couple in the act.
Yeh added that the police are not concerned whether the detectives did anything illegal in following and monitoring the couple; they are only concerned with whether the couple committed adultery or not. That has led to bolder actions by detectives in trailing and trapping their prey -- to the detriment of human rights, he said.
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