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Talk of the Day -- The debt problems of Taiwanese policemen

Talk of the Day -- The debt problems of Taiwanese policemen

Up to 1,800 of Taiwan's 68,000 police officers, or 2.6 percent, are having money deducted from their salaries every month to repay personal debts, according to National Police Agency (NPA) data. The figure does not include debt-ridden policemen who are repaying debts by other means, the agency said. Because an individual's personal finances are a private matter, the agency said it normally does not ask individual police officers about their debts and usually refrains from immediately putting them on a list of policemen who must get special training or counseling. Debt-laden police officers are listed as targets for concern, assistance or monitoring only when they are required by courts to repay debts through mandatory salary deductions or show an inclination to violate ethics codes, the agency said. Some analysts said financially troubled policemen could pose a potential threat to public order because they may be more vulnerable to criminal temptations. The following are excerpts from a special report in the Sunday edition of the China Times on the issue: The Police Bureau under the Tainan City government conducted a survey on the lives of their staff members after the merger of Tainan City and Tainan County. The survey found that nearly 200 policemen had incurred debts because they improperly managed their finances. Lin Chin-yuan, deputy director of the city's police bureau, said he took the initiative to coordinate with private debt companies to consolidate their debts and help indebted policemen work out repayment plans. Since April 2011, a third of the bureau's policemen in the program have seen their debt burdens reduced or eliminated. Lin said he helped the officers find ways to resolve their debt problems rather than help them find new sources of money. "The most important thing is that they had to change themselves. Only then could they have a future," Lin said. According to Lin, he has recently received letters from many policemen expressing their gratitude for his kind-hearted assistance. "You have saved me and my family," one policeman wrote. Another told Lin that he finally can marry since his debt burden has been resolved. Lin recalled that he has visited all of the city's 153 precincts and found that debt problem is the most serious cause to affect their staff members' lives and work. At least 170 of the bureau's 4,000-plus staff members have been troubled by debt problems, with one incurring a debt of NT$6 million. As police officers are responsible for maintaining public order, Lin said he felt compelled to help indebted policemen tackle their personal debt problems for fear that they may give in to criminal temptations under debt pressure. Over the past two years, two debt-laden Tainan police officers have been prosecuted for leaking classified information in violation of ethics codes. Lin said the police bureau only helped resolve debts to banks. "The debt consolidation program does not include debts to underground loan sharks," Lin said. Lin Chih-hsi, the Tainan Police Bureau's supervisory division chief, said gambling, investment flops and serving as guarantors for relatives or friends' bank loans are the three major causes for policemen to incur debts. A few other policemen have become indebted due to their parents' financial problems, he added. Meanwhile, the Taipei City Police Department said it once invited prosecutors to brief its staff members on how to negotiate debt repayment programs with creditor banks to help protect their own legitimate rights. Some branch police bureau heads have also taken the initiative to help their subordinates resolve debt problems through negotiations with creditor banks. (Dec. 30, 2012). (By Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-05-09 03:49 GMT+08:00