Taipei govt weighs shifting 'mobile police' plan

Taipei City Police Department

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Taipei City Government is considering cutting down the number of local police stations instead of replacing them all with "mobile stations" as proposed earlier by Mayor Ko Wen-je.

Ko has raised the issue of police reforms more than once since taking office in late 2014.

The reforms include the idea of eliminating local police stations, which would be replaced with police vehicles that carry out precinct duties.

However, the issue has generated much debate and not everyone is on Ko's side.

The National Police Agency, under the Ministry of the Interior, believes that the local police stations' existence is still necessary.

The Taipei City Police Department is still studying the feasibility of the idea, and the Datong Precinct will be the first one to be put to the test. Police stations in the precinct will be reduced in number.

The district under the Datong Precinct's jurisdiction is an older community with a relatively small population.

With a great many police stations in the area, the city government therefore plans to slash the number, and the police staff will be relocated into a new spacious precinct building.

Public Irked over Plan

There are also residents who oppose to the idea. They hold that Ko should walk down the street more and hear different parties' voices.

Some think police stations are similar to local shrines that can never be removed, for their existence provides a sense of safety.

Many police stations are located in deep pockets within the community. The close distance facilitates communication between the police and those they serve.

There are some city councilors that sided with the residents as well. Some of them are reportedly gearing up to bombard Ko with hard questions during council meetings.

Sources say most people in the police world believe Ko's idea is "not very feasible."

Government officials hold that there will be no changes in the policy direction of merging or slashing police stations. However, not all stations will be eliminated completely, they stressed.

Police stations with a smaller population in their jurisdiction may be merged with other stations.

The Taipei City Police Department is working on the details, such as how many stations will stay and how the old offices and buildings will be utilized in the future.

However, there are also people who sided with Ko. Some first-line police staff say if voice and video recording can be conducted in a police report-filing process, the mobile station concept may actually be feasible.

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