Victim: Please help me. I’m being raped by a stranger. It is the attacker’s house located between the public ground and elementary school. … Please hurry!
Police: Are you really saying that you’re being raped? … Can you give us more details about the location again? … Do you know who he is? … Please give us the address one more time.
Could anyone believe this kind of conversation went on for nearly two minutes between a police dispatcher and a woman in the face of an impending rape-murder crime? Yet that’s exactly what happened in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, last Sunday.
Police kept listening to the 28-year-old woman’s cries and begging for an additional six minutes or so before a Chinese-Korean in his early-40s killed her. It was 13 hours later that police found the suspect’s house and saw him dismember the corpse in an attempt to dispose of it unnoticed.
Provincial officers said they searched the area immediately upon receiving the report but had difficulties in conducting warrantless searches of private homes and doing it quietly so as not to provoke the killer. It was astonishing they still could find words for an excuse.
The problems this tragic crime shows are too clear to miss. First, the police, especially its dispatching service, are poor and ineffective. Only one-fifth of about 1,400 dispatchers undergo just two weeks of training. Compared this with the New York Police Department’s eight-week-long training, during which the participants must master more than 500 different crime situations.
Second, the sloppy search reflects their carelessness about people’s lives and safety. One joked they could have found her in a few minutes had someone reported she were a candlelit protestor against the government.
Third, and most egregious, was their attempt to cover up their mistakes by manipulating records. Police said the phone conversation lasted only dozens of seconds and her description of location was too vague. Recorded talks show the opposite was true.
Admittedly, the police are understaffed: they are too busy fighting with the prosecution over investigative authority, receiving bribes from the owners of hostess bars, and cracking down on various anti-government protesters and demonstrators.
So the poor woman had to die just because she brushed shoulders with a psychopath without knowing it, and was born in a country where police have more urgent businesses than protecting innocent citizens.
Her final words to the murderer in the records were ``Please sir, I was in the wrong.” Was she asking to be forgiven for reporting to the police ― in vain?