Chongqing revamps police bureau

By WANG HUAZHONG and MA WEI (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-17 07:43
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Chongqing: At least 3,000 police officials in Chongqing are facing a major job reshuffle to clean up the police force tainted by its protection of several organized gangs.

All police officers ranking between the lowest administrative level (deputy head of a section) and the level of deputy bureau director in the city must take exams to compete for new posts starting in March, according to head of the city's public security bureau.

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The southwest municipality with a population of 30 million has approximately 23,000 police, of which at least 3,000 are serving at the level of head or deputy head of a section, according to insiders.

All incumbent officials in the targeted categories have become the "temporary person in charge", a senior official of the city's public security bureau, who did not want to be named, told China Daily. The reform was read in a plenary conference on March 8 and circulated on the internal website of the police system.

Officials will have to take written examinations, undergo interviews and physical tests that are tentatively scheduled to begin in April, according to the official.

Reasons for the reshuffle is due to six-year tenures have matured, the director of Chongqing public security bureau, Wang Lijun, was quoted as saying on the website of Central People's Broadcasting Station without elaboration.

However, an official from the bureau's publicity department, who did not want to be named, said there is "no precedence" of competition for posts in the Chongqing police department.

"We are currently undergoing structural reform inside the police system. Departments have been merged or revamped to create job opportunities," he said.

The reform comes amid the ongoing crackdown on local gangs that started last June. The operation has sent two deputy directors of the bureau, Wen Qiang and Peng Changjian, among other senior police bureau heads, to court for crimes of protecting organized gangs.

The image of local police was further marred as Wen and Peng were either convicted or accused of accepting subordinates' bribes to offer promotions.

An estimated 200 officers were implicated during the operation.

Chongqing has decided to pump more fresh blood into the police force. A recent release of recruitment information by the bureau showed it planned to hire 7,700 more policemen in year 2010.

Besides adding new officers for posts of low, middle and mid-high levels, naming new high-level officers is nearly complete.

In September 2009, and January and March of 2010, the bureau named three new deputy directors: Yang Zengyu, Wang Tingyan and Tang Jianhua.

Senior posts in the criminal investigation division, border control division and traffic and patrol divisions had reportedly been filled by new faces.

Director Wang Lijun told the broadcasting station that this round of competition for the jobs "places candidates' competencies and political quality as top priority".

The emphasis on political quality is because some officials who are especially competent - like the former director Wen Qiang - were implicated during the gang-crushing operation, according to Wang.

Police officers had different reactions to the extensive changes.

"I think it's an opportunity for youth. Hopefully, the unwritten rules (using relations and money to secure promotions) will not influence this round of the selection," said officer Fang from a local detention center.

"I'm picking up dusty English and politics books again and preparing for the exam," said Fang, who did not want to give his full name. He was a deputy head at the section level before the reform.

The electronic application system allows everyone to submit applications for two posts. Seven people are competing for his former post, Fang said.

The competition, however, "is a headache and hurdle for old people", Fang said.

The reform sets entry bars, such as age and educational background, which vary according to post levels. Some positions require candidates to hold bachelor's or higher degrees.

The bureau's publicity department officials said the selection process is being watched by multiple government departments to ensure transparency and fairness.