By Gregory K. Taylor
Taiwan police have a unique way of catching criminals--by letting them know they are coming! While not actually tipping them off in the literal sense, they might as well, because the effect is the same.
To the foreign observer, the patrol procedures employed by the uniformed police can be a bit puzzling, if not confusing, considering the peculiar practice of patrolling with constantly activated emergency lights. It would seem that this practice of nonstop red and blue rotating lights emanating from the rooftop light bar doesn't lend itself to pulling over vehicle code violators or clearing traffic ahead--but merely assists the law breaker by providing a beacon in which to zero in on. Essentially, this negates any action to catch the bad guy in the commission of his crime. Were the perpetrator to pay only casual attention to his environment, he would have enough lead time to make good his escape.
|Taiwan Police Officer in Dan Shui District|
Notwithstanding, preventive patrol strategies whose purpose is to prevent crime before it occurs, decrease police response time, and interrupt in progress crimes, the general patrol method of choice is to make police presence known, but not exactly where. That is to say, the purpose is to scare off the bad guy before he commits the crime by inferring omnipresence, but not to tip him off once he has decided and is in the process of committing the crime. It would be considered ineffective police work in most jurisdictions to cruise through a neighborhood with red and blue lights flashing in a less than urgent situation. To do so takes an arrow out of one's enforcement quiver.
Taiwan also has a, well...unusually loose attitude towards law enforcement impersonators. An article written in the OZSOAPBOX Blog, titled, “Impersonating police isn’t illegal in Taiwan?” dated the 25th of May, 2012, listed the following in its comment and response section:
|This is a civilian car, not an actual police car|
“I know a foreign guy down in Hualien who likes to impersonate a police officer from time to time and direct traffic. He’s been beaten up in the process at least once while 'in uniform.'”“You certainly seem at first to be highly misinformed.
To my knowledge,
1) I am the only foreigner here in Hualien with a full Taiwanese police uniform. And, I teach at the police station.
2) I have only worn it once, and that was to a costume party on Halloween Night.
3) I have donned my “Volunteer Police” hat on a few occasions in order to direct traffic around an accident scene until the proper assistance arrived.
4) I have never been beaten up while wearing ANY uniform, nor while assisting during an emergency.
I must conclude you are either:
A) A complete idiot.
B) Anti-police, because you are a dope-smoking criminal at heart.
C) Referring to someone else.”
|Another civilian car, not a real police car|
If the above comments don't find you catatonically slack-jawed perhaps the accompanying photos of civilian cars decked out in full police regalia, minus the light bar, will.
This writer has never seen in all the years of coming to Taiwan the police conducting one car stop--only sobriety check point pullovers. If in the rare instance that a car stop drops in the police officer's lap the method for pulling the violator over is by using, yes, you've guessed it—the Public Address (PA) system, because the light bar has been rendered useless for any other purpose than to inform the citizenry that the police are on duty. Trying to make sense of this can give one a headache. However, it clearly works here in Taiwan and the fact that they have a low crime rate...how does one argue with that?