IP and Law
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 2:19 AM
Liu Limin in court
A murder trial in Taiyuan was a popular subject of editorials on 24 August. The murder attracted attention because both the murderer and the victim were cops, but the chief point of interest is the effort by the Taiyuan PSB to distance itself from the event.
On May 3, Beijing police officer Li Zhongyi took a trip to Taiyuan. That afternoon he got in an argument with Taiyuan police officer Liu Limin, who retaliated that evening by leading eight people to beat him up. Li died shortly thereafter.
At his trial, taking place this week at the mid-level People's Court in Taiyuan, Liu acknowledged his crime and apologized to Li's family:
So that should be the end of it - when the verdict comes down, Liu will be forced to turn in his badge and will spend a long time in prison, if he escapes with his life.
Except for one thing - the Taiyuan PSB is now saying that Liu was never a police officer in the first place, that when he came to the force from the army in 2002, he never was accorded a rank. This is a complete reversal of what they said at first, that Liu was a good officer who "lacked training and in a moment of passion killed a fellow police officer."
Newspaper editorials are uniform in their condemnation of the Taiyuan PSB's flip-flopping:
From The Beijing News:
When the sensational "Beijing cop beaten to death in Taiyuan" trial opened, a spokesperson for the Taiyuan PSB spoke about the case to the media, saying that Liu Limin "never received a police officer's rank, and never was a cop."
This action by the Taiyuan police is mystifying. However, what is more intriguing is not the argument over Liu Limin's status as a cop, but rather the constantly changing "caliber" of the Taiyuan PSB.
When the case of Liu Limin was broken, the Taiyuan PSB spokesperson said that it was a case of "an insufficiently trained individual who in a moment of passion committed a crime that led to the tragedy of a good cop beating another good cop to death." The media heard from the lips of Liu Limin's superiors and colleagues that Liu Limin was a "young, good cop" who "did his work well."
But before long, the Taiyuan PSB pulled a 180. In the middle of May, a Taiyuan PSB spokesperson said that the case of Liu Limin "resulted from an inflation of malignant ideas about special police rights. It was a crime that stemmed from ideas about special rights."
And now, Liu Limin has become a "fake cop." The solemn "good cop" argument and the righteous "bad cop" verdict from three months ago seem never to have existed.
From "good cop" to "bad cop" and again to "fake cop" - it is in this repeated change of specifications that the local PSB seriously overdrew the public trust. The immoral conduct of Liu Limin can be called an "individual action" but there is no doubt that in its addresses to the public, the PSP represents the image of the entire force. For this reason, compared with Liu Limin organizing a group of people to beat another to death, the contradictions and confused logic of the "statements" of the Taiyuan PSB will perhaps do even more harm to the image of the police force.
For the public security force to have the odd bad apple is nothing to be afraid of; rather, be afraid of PSB departments that don't face up to reality, don't take up their responsibilities, and don't reflect carefully. As enforcers of the law, the PSB should be aware that in the mind of the public, the image of the PSB is not necessarily one of spotless perfection, but it at least should be one of truthfulness and results.
From Dahe Daily:
Pandora (media critic): ....Giving police officers their ranks is a process; it's not the case that every individual in the policy department who satisfied the requirements of a police officer's position received a rank on the day after the Regulations on Police Ranks went into effect. This is one set of circumstances. But another situation is that within a police station there are other associated personnel like firefighters, police academy interns, office workers, "memo officials," and "relations officials," [officials who received their positions through family or other connections] all of whom are not authorized to receive a rank, and for this reason they cannot wear police uniforms, wield a badge, carry weapons, drive police cars, or interrogate suspects. If they do so they are "fake police." Since Liu Limin was a "good cop" who "worked well", and his "work quality was quite good", the probability is higher that his circumstances were of the first kind. But regardless of what his status was, Liu Limin committed a heinous crime and took someone's life; the police department he worked at cannot evade its responsibility.
For this reason, the Taiyuan PSB's announcement right as the trial began that "Liu Limin never was a police officer" cannot be entirely successful in proving that Liu Limin had no relationship with the police. There is much that the Taiyuan police need to do, but at the very least announcing that "Liu Limin never was a police officer" is not a critical task.
Yang Gengshen (media professional): Why did the Taiyuan police want to do this? It's obvious - they want shield their faults and escape their responsibility. Liu was a Taiyuan cop, so this kind of scandal would bring shame on local leaders. And there are also questions about whether Liu Limin turned himself in. Think about it: being a "good cop" was not enough to clear Liu Limin. When the scandal could not be resolved, if they could prove that this person was not a cop, it might minimize the harm to the image of the local police department. So it's understandable that in the aftermath of a scandal of a cop beating another cop to death, the local PSB wanted the killer to be "not a cop".
But even if Liu Limin were not a cop, he still worked in the Taiyuan police department. And even when a worker who is not a cop does something like this, we can still investigate further whether the internal management of the local police department was lax in its duties. The Taiyuan PSB has documents about the identities of all of the people involved, but they have rarely issued information reflecting on this scandal. How does this help them learn a lesson from this scandal, and how does it help them avoid another Liu Limin?
From the Oriental Morning Post:
Yang Tao (Ganzhou procuratorate in Jiangxi Province): The entanglement over whether Liu Limin was a cop is not without meaning. Aside from the lesson revealed by the Taiyuan PSB evading its responsibility, the case uncovers the more important matter of deep problems that exist in the management of the police. According to Law Concerning the People's Police and PSB regulations, one must meet certain standards and requirements to become a police officer. But the authority for managing police is at the local level, and it is easy for local leaders to put relatives into positions in police departments. However, some of these people do not have the necessary requirements to be police officers. This does not stop them from exercising a police officer's power, and it does not stop the public from recognizing them as police.
Higher authorities had originally planned on barring the door to police departments by controlling how ranks are issued, but they did not guess that locals could open the door whenever they pleased. There are lots of people unqualified to be police who are doing police work. When they act illegally, is it reasonable to say that they aren't police? The public does not look at what their position is on paper, but rather what it is they actually do, and what power it is that they exercise.
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