September 16, 2023 08:24
Creaking joints and spreading waistlines make chasing criminals more difficult for aging police especially in Korea's rural areas.
According to the National Police Agency, some 21 percent of 2,043 police substations and outposts across the country have an average age of 50, mostly in the countryside. Even in Seoul, around 30 percent of 10,296 officers are over 50.
In North Jeolla Province, 57.8 percent of officers are over 50, in South Jeolla Province 54.9 percent, in North Gyeongsang Province 53.3 percent, in Gangwon Province 44.6 percent and in Gwangju 43.6 percent.
Among the top 10 police substations with the highest average age, seven are in North Jeolla Province, two in South Jeolla Province and one in Jeju Island.
"Younger officers are usually sent to police stations in metropolitan areas," where the workload is considered heavier, a police spokesman admitted.
A senior police inspector in Seoul said, "An officer over 50 at a police substation, which is on the front line of fighting crime, means ample experience, but the physical constraints of age mean there are difficulties with things like working night shifts."
Experts recommend allocating officers more evenly according to age. Kim Young-sik at Seowon University said, "The current system of stationing officers reflects their own preferences rather than boosting effectiveness. Physical ability and age need to be taken into account."
Kwak Dae-kyung at Dongguk University said, "Officers are allocated across the board without considering the needs of each region or neighborhood. We need to adopt a more effective approach."
People Power Party lawmaker Cho Eun-hee said, "The experience of officers over 50 is invaluable, but the ability of police to respond quickly to a crime is also vital. We urgently need to reallocate officers so they can work efficiently amid this recent increase of violent crime in public places."
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