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Model patrolman died while stopping speeding vehicle

Going beyond merely imposing penalties, Chen's unique approach made roads safer

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-14 09:01
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Traffic police officer Chen Yonghu (right) talks to a scooter rider in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. XINHUA

While alerting his colleagues to watch out for a car attempting to evade a checkpoint, Chen Yonghu, a leader of the Traffic Police Brigade in Keqiao district, Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, intercepted the speeding vehicle. Tragically, he was struck and killed.

On the evening of May 15 last year, Chen and his colleagues were manning a traffic checkpoint when an off-road vehicle accelerated through it. When Chen and a fellow officer attempted to intercept the car, it returned and rammed into the checkpoint. Chen yelled to alert his colleagues while attempting to stop the car, but he was knocked onto the hood.

Video captured by law enforcement reveals that Chen grabbed onto the hood of the car, trying to maintain balance while vigorously pounding on it and shouting loudly toward the driver, "Stop the car, stop the car..."

After speeding for 700 meters, the vehicle crashed into a tree, slid down a two-meter slope and collided with a car in the opposite lane before coming to a stop. Chen was left lying in a pool of blood and later succumbed to his injuries despite rescue efforts. He was 48.

Chen, who joined the police force in November 1995, had been working in grassroots traffic police brigades for a long time. Over 27 years, Chen held different positions in multiple traffic police brigades.

While serving as an instructor in the Keqiao Traffic Police Brigade, he noticed that over 60 percent of accidents in the urban area involved deliverymen. He proposed shifting the focus from merely enforcing the law to addressing the root causes of the problem.

In May 2019, Chen led the implementation of a series of measures, including collaborating with delivery companies to conduct law enforcement and carrying out educational training for deliverymen to raise safety awareness. As a result, the number of traffic violations involving food deliverymen in the area decreased by 25 percent in the first half of 2020.

In June 2022, Chen transferred to the Ma'an Traffic Police Brigade in Shaoxing as the brigade leader. His jurisdiction covered an industrial area with over 3,000 companies and more than 230,000 migrant workers. Addressing traffic order in such a vast industrial area posed a new challenge for Chen.

Upon assuming office, Chen's first task was to visit every road in the jurisdiction, where he identified 17 issues and hidden dangers. He also carefully observed traffic conditions at accident-prone intersections and found that the long-term parking of large trucks on both sides of the road due to the area's industrial concentration posed significant safety hazards.

He realized that merely imposing penalties on these illegally parked trucks would not solve the problem at its source. To find a solution, he searched for various materials online, drafted planning proposals and drew on his past experience to develop solutions.

When with colleagues, Chen rarely mentioned his family affairs, but his colleagues knew that his children were in college, his parents were elderly, and his father, in poor health, required constant care. Yet he rarely took leave for family matters.

"He often went home after work to take care of his father and then returned to the brigade to work overtime after his father fell asleep," said Kong Shaowei, one of Chen's colleagues.

"My father worked until the last moment of his life, using his life to illustrate the responsibility of a grassroots police officer. He cherished this ordinary profession, giving his all day after day, to do this ordinary job well," Chen Libo, Chen's son, said at his memorial service.

During his career, Chen was awarded a third-class merit citation twice, and received commendations five times. His honors were for his outstanding performance in crackdowns on traffic violations, ensuring smooth and safe road traffic, and the research and development of the Smart Traffic Management Command Platform to improve its level of intelligence, and refinement of traffic management.

In August last year, the Ministry of Public Security posthumously awarded Chen the title of "Second-Class Hero Model of the National Public Security System".

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