The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is an abominable incident that could shake the public’s trust in the police to its very foundations.
A 19-year-old policeman of the Shiga prefectural police’s Hikone Station has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He is suspected to have shot to death a fellow police officer — a 41-year-old sergeant — with a handgun from behind while on duty at a police box in Hikone.
The handgun used was issued to him for performing official duties.
Needless to say, police handguns are issued to confront vicious criminals. Their use is permitted in extremely limited cases, including to prevent criminals from fleeing.
The suspect pointed the handgun, which should be used for protecting citizens, toward his fellow officer. It can be said that this is an unprecedented incident. He does not seem to be the least bit aware of what a police officer is.
After committing the crime, the suspect went to a convenience store — still in his police uniform — and drew money from his bank account at an ATM there before fleeing in a patrol car.
The runaway policeman carrying a handgun made the community anxious. Police apprehended the culprit about six hours after the incident occurred. He threw away the gun on the way and abandoned the patrol car. If the gun came into the hands of someone else, a new crime could have been committed.
The suspect was hired as a police officer in April last year. After graduating from the police academy in January this year, he was assigned to Hikone Station. He had been working at the police box with the sergeant, who served as a trainer, since March. The suspect reportedly said, “I shot the gun because I was scolded by him.”
Approach hiring with wisdom
Considering the grave consequences of his conduct, it is appalling to see how childish the motive was.
The prefectural police explained that there was no problem with his work attitude. Why then did he go as far as to commit murder? Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki had every reason to call for prefectural police chief Tetsuro Kamata to elucidate the entire picture of the incident.
National Police Agency Commissioner General Shunichi Kuryu said, “We’ll strictly deal [with the incident] and endeavor to build a highly disciplined organization.” Taking this opportunity, all police organizations should examine whether there are any factors that could cause similar crimes.
It is necessary to verify the suspect’s attitude toward life and other matters while he was at the police academy. The police academy is where the knowledge and expertise required to be a police officer are taught through experiencing a tough group life. Did he not behave in any way that raised questions about his aptitude to be a police officer?
In hindsight, it must be said that the hiring of such a man itself was a problem. In this regard, the prefectural police’s responsibility is grave.
The number of people aspiring to be police officers is on a declining trend. If the hiring criteria become lenient to maintain the number of newly recruited police officers at a certain level, then cases of unfit people entering police organizations will increase. Securing excellent human resources is a challenge facing the entire police organization.