An outrageous incident happened last week in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province. A woman driving a luxury car deliberately ran over the feet of a waitress who tried to prevent her from parking in front of the restaurant. When the waitress made the emergency call to the police, the woman yelled: "I am not scared; I have connections in the police bureau."
Everybody, from the passers-by at the scene to netizens online, was angered by the woman's audacious, unscrupulous words. But I think the one who should be most angry is the chief of the police bureau. Aren't the woman's words an open insult to the police? Wasn't she tarnishing the image of the city's police?
I don't know how any of the police chiefs at different levels of Nanjing's police reacted to the event, as there was no follow-up report about it. But one policeman's behavior with regard to it triggered some thoughts in me.
After the waitress made the call, a few policemen arrived at the scene. One of the officers asked the woman to show her driver's license. The woman refused to produce the license but instead took out a mobile phone and began to make a call. After speaking to the other end of the line for some time, she handed the phone to the policeman. The officer listened to the phone for a while, then told the woman to leave and asked the waitress to follow him to the police station for further questioning.
The passers-by protested to the policemen and would not allow the woman to go. The officers later took both women to the police station "for a reconciliatory settlement."
In my, and most people's, understanding, police is the embodiment of justice; and policemen should tend to protect the weak from being bullied by the powerful. However, I did not find the policemen in the event feeling any indignation over the woman's arrogance.
According to the accounts of the passers-by, the woman started her car to run over the waitress's left foot. When the girl begged the woman to move the car back, the woman in the car would not budge and said the girl had "put her foot under my wheel." A few passers-by pushed the car backward to free the girl's foot. Referring to the waitress and her workmates, the woman also retorted, "These guys from the countryside are unreasonable."
It was obviously a case of rich people bullying migrant workers from the countryside.
Certainly, one cannot blame the officer for his apathetic attitude when handling the case as a civil dispute. But it does not mean that he can be without a sense of justice. As least he did not demonstrate that sense when he let the woman leave while keeping the country girl for questioning.
In fact, the policeman began to act wrongly the moment he took the phone handed to him by the woman. He should have rejected the phone, for talking to any person on the phone was irrelevant to the matter he was handling. He was even more wrong when he decided to let the woman go after listening to the phone. Whatever the content of the conversation from the mysterious person at the other end of the line, the officer's decision was wrong. He has not only profaned the honor of his profession as a guardian of social justice but also ruined his own dignity.
Needless to say, policemen in this country are generally loyal to their duty and the majority of them have done a good job in keeping our society safe and in order. But anyone who cares about the state of our society would admit that the incident mentioned in this column is not a rare case. Anyhow, the "connections in the police bureau" is something that noticeably breaches police's professional ethics.
(China Daily 11/26/2008 page8)