The National Police Agency (NPA) was forced to establish a special committee to deal with a surge in crimes committed by police officers, including robberies and molestations.
In the first three months of this year alone, disciplinary measures have been handed down to 110 officers, of whom 12 were fired, according to NPA officials.
That was 18 more than the number of officers disciplined in the same period for 2011 and four more than the number who were dismissed.
The number of police officers arrested reached at least 22 during the same period. Police officers involved in wrongdoing were also reported in April and later.
The youngest police officer fired was 21 years old and working with the Aichi prefectural police. He was suspected of choking a junior high school girl and attempted an obscene act.
The officer reportedly admitted to molesting girls before joining the police department. In response to questioning, he said, "I wanted to turn a new page after becoming a police officer."
The oldest officer dismissed was a 62-year-old in the Gunma prefectural police department. He was caught embezzling money intended for investigations to wine and dine a woman he was seeing at the time.
In February, a 37-year-old police officer with Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department groped a senior high school girl by placing his hand in her underwear.
In March, a 53-year-old police officer in Osaka was caught selling counterfeit police notebooks.
A flurry of crimes by officers led the NPA to establish a special committee consisting of 22 high-ranking officials in late April.
Until now, the NPA dealt with police scandals by issuing directives to all prefectural police departments to implement thorough measures.
At their first meeting on May 7, Masahito Kanetaka, the NPA chief internal inspector, gave instructions to come up with specific measures to prevent a recurrence of the wrongdoings.
"People both within and outside the police force are no longer surprised when a police officer commits a crime,” a member of the special committee said. “We have to do something about such an unusual situation."
Other wrongdoings went beyond individual acts.
Three officers of the Iwata Police Station in Shizuoka Prefecture were caught committing such crimes as secretly photographing women and robbery. But the police chief forced them to resign instead of filing charges against them.
The police station chief also failed to submit reports of the crimes to prefectural police headquarters. But papers were filed with prosecutors in April against the police chief’s inaction, and he was later fired.
A high-ranking NPA official said the Iwata case was much more serious than the inaction by police that led to a stalker killing two relatives in Nagasaki Prefecture of the woman he was harassing.
"The Iwata Police Station case in which the chief tried to cover up crimes shows that the fundamental point of reform to not conceal scandals has not taken hold," the official said.
The second meeting of the NPA special committee was held on May 21, but Kanetaka was not satisfied with the measures submitted. He gave further instructions to come up with measures that would drastically change the police.
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