Chongqing's traffic patrol police provide alternative to police model

15:55, February 15, 2011      

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It was about five in the morning when the earrings belonging to Qi Shibi were pulled from her ears by a teenager robber who immediately ran off.

With both of her ears bleeding, Qi, 59, knew exactly where to ask for help: the nearest outdoor traffic patrol police (TPP) station, which has flashing lights so it would be easy to find.

At the police station in the square in front of the southwestern city of Chongqing railway station, Qi was received by police officer Huang Qiang. Huang led Qi to the crime scene and finished identification of witnesses within 20 minutes of the robbery, which helped identify the robber.

However, Qi would have had less chance to see justice done if the crime had happened before one year ago this month, when Chongqing introduced the "traffic patrol police" and set up 350 TPP stations that are on duty day and night across the city.

The city's new police force marked a change in China's police system, which has traffic police officers who only enforce traffic laws. The new police force is similar to police systems in most other countries, where a big portion of the police force patrols the streets to handle both traffic and crimes.

With the introduction of TTP, the city's major police force can no longer simply wait for crime reports in the offices of public security bureaus or indoor police stations. Instead, they now have to wait in outdoor stations scattered across the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even in Chongqing's notoriously humid and hot summer.

The officers also ride in police cars and patrol the roads to deal with accidents, crimes, and even lost pedestrians. Last year, the picture of a TPP officer carrying a load for an old resident spread across the Internet. The officer was dubbed by Internet users as "the most handsome policeman."

Also, the TPP has reduced the minimum time Chongqing police need to arrive at a crime scene from five to three minutes, which has tremendously improved security in the city. The area is one of the four municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of China's central government.

A local survey last year found that 98.3 percent of the surveyed Chongqing residents feel that the city is safe. According to Chongqing's public security bureau, the proximity of the police to crime scenes has been of help in preventing crimes.

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