Mon, Jun 08, 2015 - Page 3 News List

More overworked police retiring early

SAFETY RISK:Control Yuan member Gau Fehng-shian said the increasing number of officers applying for early retirement could affect national and public security

By Lee Hsin-fang  /  Staff reporter

The number of police officers who applied for early retirement citing pressure from overwork over the past three years signals an alarming loss of police capabilities and a consequent impact on national security, a Control Yuan member said.

The number of police officers applying for voluntary retirement has been increasing annually over the past five years, Control Yuan member Gau Fehng-shian (高鳳仙) said.

In 2010, 1,630 officers applied, rising to 2,382 last year, with an average of about 2,000 applying in each of the past three years, Gau said, adding that a shortage of police officers would affect national and public security.

She accused the National Police Agency of failing to seriously examine a growing trend toward early retirement among officers.

The agency should also propose effective measures to retain good officers, she added.

The agency should convene the agencies involved to lay out countermeasures to tackle the problems of the loss caused by early retirement and of the “serious shortage of police officers,” Gau said.

It should also review the duties of officers and their workload to protect both their rights and public safety, Gau added.

Ministry of Civil Service data showed that the average age of voluntary retirement applicants has decreased annually.

In 2005, the average retirement age was 54.25, the data showed. The average hovered near 53 from 2006 until 2013, when it dropped to 52.65, hitting 52.4 last year.

The data showed that 2,035 police officers applied for retirement in 2012, 2,233 in 2013 and 2,382 last year, demonstrating that the number has been increasing, Gau said.

The ministry’s data revealed that the reasons most cited in applications were, in descending order, life planning, health problems, work pressure, others — such as family factors — and salary and benefits.

However, the Control Yuan member suggested that the Legislative Yuan’s review of a draft bill concerning the retirement of civil servants in 2009 also affected the phenomenon, saying the number of officers applying for retirement has been increasing since then.

It shows that the reform of the civil servants’ retirement system is also a determining factor causing the rise, she said.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Chiu Chang-yueh (邱昌嶽) said the staffing quota allowed by the budget is 73,908 police officers, according to the agency’s latest statistical data, but the current number is 65,403, meaning that the force is short 8,505 police officers.

Chiu said about 20,000 more officers are expected to be hired over the next five years, amid expanded recruitment and training, adding that veteran police officers would also be encouraged to remain on staff.

However, a Ministry of the Interior official acknowledged that many rank-and-file officers have expressed “disappointment” with the job and filed for early retirement.

The police shoulder a heavy load of regular duties and, as street protests and demonstrations have increased since last year, the burden on officers has also increased, the official said, adding that lower-level officers are also subjected to frequent dressing-downs from the higher ranks.

Workplace stress for police officers is therefore heavy and has made the work environment “depressing,” the official added.

The problem is not restricted to police officers, as rank-and-file firefighters have also expressed frustration, the official added.

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