Taiwan railway police now have pepper spray, bulletproof vests

Standard procedure updated following death of young officer, Lee Cheng-han, on Wednesday, June 3

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Railway Officer Lee Cheng-han (pictured) died due to an injury sustained during an attack on June 3

Railway Officer Lee Cheng-han (pictured) died due to an injury sustained during an attack on June 3 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- Law enforcement officers deployed at train stations and inside train carriages are now equipped with pepper spray and bulletproof vests and are working in teams of two after one of their colleagues was killed by a passenger on a train Wednesday.

The measures were put in place after 24-year-old railway police officer Lee Cheng-han (李承翰) was stabbed by a knife-wielding passenger on a northbound train at Chiayi Station on Wednesday at 8:42 p.m. while responding to a quarrel between the passenger and the train conductor.

The attacker, who was found riding the train without a ticket, was subdued with the help of other passengers, but Lee died in hospital at 8:37 a.m. Thursday of liver trauma and cardiac arrest.

In the wake of the incident, the National Policy Agency (NPA) deployed an additional 120 police officers from its special police forces to support the Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung police bureaus in securing the safety of train stations and train carriages, a spokesperson from the Railway Police Bureau told CNA on Friday.

Police officers will wear bulletproof vests and patrol in teams of two for now only during rush hour and between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. when many workers head home, the bureau said.

They will also carry pepper spray with them and have two officers respond to any situation at all hours of the day, according to the bureau, and the NPA is also planning to procure electric stun guns to make it easier for police officers to enforce the law.

Patrol frequencies and manpower will be increased to prevent similar incidents from happening again, the bureau said, and it urged passengers to report any violent incidents to authorities immediately instead of taking photos or videos on site.

Under current regulations, railway police carry a gun and a baton with them while on duty, and law enforcement officers do not have to wear a bulletproof vest when patrolling train stations.

Meanwhile, police officers patrolling Taipei metro stations should be equipped with a bulletproof vest, hand gun, electric stun gun, baton and pepper spray at all times.