Presidential chief of staff condemns police officers’ protest against launch of police bureau

Presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki on Sunday lashed out at a recent meeting of police station chiefs from across the country held to protest the interior ministry’s envisioned launch of a “police bureau,” calling the meeting “inappropriate.”

Kim made the remarks during a press conference at the presidential office, one day after some 50 chiefs of police stations across the country held a meeting in Asan, 86 kilometers south of Seoul, to protest the interior ministry plan. About 140 other senior superintendent-level officials virtually attended the meeting.

The ministry is set to launch the police bureau next month as it seeks to tighten its grip over the police ahead of the September implementation of two laws that will ultimately abolish the investigative powers of the prosecution and transfer them to police.

Following the Saturday meeting, chiefs of police stations denounced the ministry’s plan as “retrogression” and vowed to communicate their opposition to the national police chief nominee and the ministry.

“Seen from my 35 years of experience as a civil servant, I think it was an inappropriate act,” the presidential chief of staff said in his first public remarks over the issue.

“There are three agencies whose powers are greater than government ministries in South Korea: the prosecution, the police and the tax agency,” Kim said, adding that only the police do not come under the control of a higher body.

“As the police could become the most powerful body (after the implementation of) the prosecution reform laws, I think there’s a need for checks and balances,” he said.

Ryu Sam-young, a senior police official who led Saturday’s meeting, warned that there could be a greater backlash for any action that “ignores us.” After the meeting, he was put on the waiting list for a new assignment in an apparent disciplinary action against him.

Resistance over the envisioned launch of the police bureau is expected to escalate as lower-level police officers also plan to hold a meeting in Asan on July 30 in an apparent display of their solidarity against the launch.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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