Pictures and Words by Editing Department
Translated by Cara Steenstra
Since Mayor Jason Hu came into office, he has helmed almost all of the monthly public security report meetings. Apart from trying to meet the requests of the Police Department (such as purchasing more equipment and uniforms and supplementing funds), he also tried his best in asking everyone to help in the efforts of improving public security. He photocopied former New York Mayor Giuianni's "Broken Window" theory for colleagues at the Police Department to read, hoping that everyone would not overlook the "smaller matters" in public security, so that larger targets could be achieved.
When Giulianni came into office in New York, he brought up the "Broken Window" Theory, which meant that "small matters must be taken seriously" too. Regarding harassment activities that disturb the peace of community life, such as unlicensed street vendors, rental cars charging fees haphazardly, graffiti and other such activities must all be taken seriously. Giulianni also insisted that red light industries must be situated at least 200 meters away from schools. As a result, many pornographic video stores on 42nd Street closed down; some large scale entertainment companies moved into 42nd Street and vastly changed the street scenes and culture of the area. The most reviled New York Underground system also underwent a complete change under Giulianni's efforts.
Mayor Jason Hu demanded that all colleagues at the Police Department strengthen their efforts and race against time.
Extra Efforts Make Up for Shortage in Police Manpower
Objectively speaking, with Taichung city as its center, central Taiwan covers a rather large area. North of Taipei is JiLong (the sea), south of Kaohsiung is also the sea, whereas Taichung is geographically located in the center of Taiwan, whether going north or south, along the mountains or along the coast, traffic is very convenient. According to statistics, in 2004, out-of-towners coming to commit serious crimes in Taichung reached 50%, common crimes (except serious crimes) also reached 50%. These numbers indicate a very high ratio.
As for police manpower, Taichung city has 2,486 policemen. On average, each policeman is responsible for the safety of 412 citizens (not counting the mobile population). However, Taipei city has 7,642 policemen; each policeman is responsible for the safety of 343 citizens, Kaohsiung city has 4,303 policemen; each policeman is responsible for the safety of 352 citizens. Compared to Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taichung city is obviously lacking in police manpower. The Taichung Police is responsible for a wide area of the population, with a complicated public security situation, yet the manpower and resources available here cannot be compared with either Taipei or Kaohsiung. At that time, Police Bureau Chief Zhang Qing-Yu even described Taichung City as a "public security junkyard".
As Mayor, Mr. Jason Hu fully understands the difficult situation that faces Taichung city, with the highest crime rate, yet possessing the weakest number in manpower. As the police manpower had not experienced any increase in the last ten years, it was equally difficult to shake off the image of a city with poor public security.
Results are being seen in Efforts to Clean up Illegal Activities
"To key to public security is determination. Law enforcers must let people who carry out illegal activities know that the government is determined to wipe them out."
Take the example of illegal street racing, Taiwan's street racing appeared earliest in Taichung's Metropolitan Park and Dong Hai University's Dong Da Road, creating a street racing trend. Mayor Hu spoke to the Police Department Chief and told him that street racing must be put to an end; otherwise these street racers will soon start robbing convenience stores and gas stations, perhaps even attack people with machetes. After this, Taichung city's tough policies put an end to such behavior.
Mayor Hu also told the Police Department Chief that advertising vehicles carrying posters saying "500cc All You Can Drink with Enchantments" (implying illegal prostitution activities) will be seen as an invitation to the police to search and check these advertised premises. Two weeks after these words were spoken; such advertising vehicles completely disappeared from view. There are still some advertising vehicles around at the moment, however, these mostly advertise loan companies, with only telephone numbers advertised and no known address, whereas the sex industry usually requires an address to attract customers.
Mayor Hu also asked the Police Department to actively remove stickers advertising the sex industry. Those with telephone numbers advertised will have their phone lines terminated within one week. This way, those businesses must pay the cost of having their phone lines reinstalled. These businesses usually start putting these stickers out after midnight, so that people will notice them when they go to work in the mornings. Mayor Hu started the "eraser movement", encouraging citizens, especially cleaners who work in the mornings, to collect these stickers in exchange for gifts or lottery tickets. In the end, everyone pitched in to collect these stickers, with a total of 3200,000 stickers collected. This way, businesses realized that these stickers no longer have an effect, so they have ended using these stickers as an advertising ploy.
Mayor Hu also takes the problem of car and motorcycle theft very seriously. During one public security report meeting, Mayor Hu spoke strongly on this subject, indicating that if the management is not motivated, someone else should take their place.
He demanded that the Police Department take positive action to improve the situation. Through everyone's effort, in 2002, the average monthly number of small car theft numbers dropped to 608; in 2003, the number dropped to 508, in 2004, the number dropped further to 427. In 2005, patrols around hot spots for car thefts were increased, communication between areas were strengthened, the use of modern technology has been increased to help solve crimes and security during the Chinese New Year vacation period had also been stepped up, so that during January and February the month numbers dropped down to 346 and 262 respectively. Under the efforts of the Police Department, the monthly average number of stolen cars in Taichung has been dropping steadily between 2001 and February 2005, with an average decrease of approximately 100 cases per month. This can be said to be a significant improvement indeed.
Generally speaking, citizens tend to gauge public security with violent crimes, burglary, the overall crime rate and the percentage of criminal cases that have been solved.
Consider the overall crime rate in Taichung city: in 2001, there were 46,347 cases, amongst these, 45% were solved; in 2002, there were 50,059 cases and 50% were solved; in 2003, there were 47,910 cases and 50% were solved; in 2004, there were 50,295 cases, and up to 51.1% of those cases were solved. The number of crimes may have fluctuated, but the percentage of criminal cases that were solved increased from 45% to 51.1%.
As for motorcycle thefts, between 2001 and 2004, the number of motorcycle thefts each year is as follows: 20266, 21954, 21129 and 17577; the percentages of these cases that have been solved are as follows: 48%, 55%, 55% and 62.7%. These numbers indicate that the number of thefts have been on the decrease, whereas the percentages of these cases that have been solved have been on the increase.
As for violent criminal cases, in 2001, there were 1667 cases. In the subsequent three years, the numbers have been lower than this, they are as follows: in 2002, there were 2180 cases, in 2003, there were 1116 cases and in 2004, there were 1505 cases.
Apart from criminal cases, eradicating sex industries, gambling and gaming industries are also the main focuses of the Taichung Police Department's work.
Changing the Atmosphere, Establishing Culture
Taichung city was once well known around the country as an elegant cultural city, however, with the changes in social and economic structure, Taichung city became inundated with various red light industries, giving the city a less than desirable reputation.
In order to turn this situation around, Mayor Hu demanded that the Taichung City Government Team use their team effort and strengthen their control over the nine major red light industries including, KTV, barber shops, saunas, dance halls, bars, pubs, special coffee and tea houses, gaming centers and others. Apart from prosecuting illegal businesses, efforts to give guidance to legal businesses were also carried out simultaneously. The numbers of businesses within these nine major red light industries were at 392 in 2001, 461 in 2002, 485 in 2003, and 487 in 2004, and by March 2005 there were 480. Although there has been an increase in numbers, the actual growth rate has decreased. At the same time, the number of illegal businesses in these industries has also dropped significantly, there were 399 in 2001, 146 in 2002, 128 in 2003, 121 in 2004, and by March 2005, the numbers dropped down to 108. In particular, by 2005, there were no longer any illegal businesses in the sauna, dance hall and electronic gaming industries. The efforts of the Taichung City Government team work have achieved its initial results.
In the future, Mayor Hu hopes to acquire priority subsidy from the Central Government to assist in lowering the pressure on the police department; demand an increase in the budget for using technology in solving criminal cases; and strengthening the efficiency and ability to solve criminal cases. Otherwise, should the county and city financial circumstances be in any difficulty, there might be certain reasons for the most basic requirements of the Police Department to become compromised as a result, making it impossible for the Police to effectively fight crime.
"We believe that with hard work, results will be seen. People's support is our strongest backup. Facing all these different challenges in public security, we must not be afraid, must not back off and must not slack off in our efforts, so that we can safeguard the security of our citizens, and make Taichung city a happy, warm and elegant city."