SHANGHAI - The government of Nanjing, Jiangsu province, has toughened its disciplinary rules for chengguan, or urban management officers, after one of them was fired for drunk driving.
The new initiatives, released on Sunday, tighten bans on the use of excessive force, violations of procedures, extortion and drinking on duty.
Uniformed chengguan will not be allowed to engage in non-work-related activities. They have been specifically warned against wearing their uniforms while visiting entertainment and recreation venues, including restaurants, karaoke bars or shopping malls.
Violators face dismissal from the law enforcement force, according to the new rules.
Situ Xingfu, a spokesman for the Nanjing Urban Management Bureau, said the rules further clarify the obligations of a team leader who will be subject to disciplinary action if a member of his or her team is found to have flaunted the rules.
Senior officials of the bureau said they have noticed some recent cases of "improper enforcement" by junior officers, and were keen to ensure enforcement is carried out "rationally and peacefully in a civilized and disciplined manner".
On May 19, an unnamed urban management officer, on a motorbike tried to chase away a vendor who had blocked the sidewalk with a truck full of watermelons.
The vendor told the police that the management officer was drunk at the time.
The officer subsequently failed an alcohol test and was held in criminal detention, before the bureau fired him.
The bureau also set up an online forum to collect opinions and advice from Nanjing residents a few weeks ago.
A chengguan officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one reason behind the frequent clashes between officers and vendors is lack of proper training.
"Some colleagues told me that enforcement means the use of force to clear encroachments," he said. "Some said that we need to take advantage of the power we have because we are underpaid."
"We don't have enough training to effectively enforce laws with manners.
"Sometimes persuasion doesn't work, especially when our image is quite negative among the public. Sometimes passers-by sympathize with illegal vendors and help them fight us.
"We are told too often about the dos and don'ts, but seldom about how to work properly," he said.
Hou Wenjun, a 47-year-old local resident, said he welcomes the new rules but doubts they will have immediate effects.
"I have seen too many fights between vendors and chengguan officers," said Hou.
"It will take a long time to upgrade the general quality of some chengguan officers.
But I doubt the immediate effects of the rules. It takes a long time to upgrade the general quality of those chengguan officers."