Independent Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday played down his remarks that he would remove all local police stations (派出所) in the city to boost efficiency, saying it was only idea that is open to public discussion.
In an interview on Wednesday with the Internet media outlet on.cc, a member of the Hong Kong-based Oriental Press Group, Ko said that since there are already 14 police precinct offices (警察局分局), he was thinking of removing local police stations as “it is a waste of money to maintain so many police stations.”
Police officers can stay in their cars when they are on two-hour shifts, he said, adding that this would help increase the mobility and efficiency of Taipei’s police force.
“You should not be limited by your imagination,” Ko said in the interview.
“I was just floating an idea for public discussion,” Ko told a press conference at his former campaign headquarters after the remarks sparked criticism.
The issue “is not something that the mayor can unilaterally decide,” he said.
“The ultimate goal is to have officers arrive at the scene within three minutes after someone reports a case by telephone,” he said.
Ko added that the idea of eliminating local police stations came up because he believed it was a waste of the workforce to have officers wait in police stations to take reports from the public.
“I am open to all options, but I think it is not good for all local police stations to be there just to take reports from people,” he said.
The National Police Agency (NPA) voiced its opposition to the idea.
“Local police stations are not there just to take reports. They make it easier for officers to patrol, be in touch with the public. People also feel more secure when there are officers stationed near their homes,” NPA Chief Secretary Tsai Yi-meng (蔡義猛) told a news conference at the agency.
There is not enough room to house all police officers in precinct offices, and expanding the offices would entail spending more money, Tsai said.
He added that local police stations also provide the faster response that Ko wants.
“Under the current system, when a dispatch center receives a call, it sends officers from the police station nearest the place where help is needed,” he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇) panned Ko’s proposal, saying that the incoming mayor apparently does not understand the ordinary residents’ reliance on local police stations for security.
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