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Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Beijing Police Officers: Rude No More?

The Beijing Public Security Bureau has decided to do something in response to citizen complaints about rudeness. From June 11 through July 31, it will conduct both open and undercover investigations into the attitude of officers dealing with the public, and issue warnings to those who are rude. From August 1, punishments will be imposed pursuant to the "Rules on Service by Public Security Window Units" (公安机关窗口单位服务规定) (i.e., sections interacting directly with the public), issued by the Ministry on Feb. 7, 2003. (I guess they weren't being enforced very seriously before.)

Here are some of the phrases that seem to have provoked the most resentment among the masses; according to a story in the Beijing Morning News (晨报), which the BBC article summarizes but which I can't make appear on my browser, the PSB has actually printed these up in a manual for study. Thanks to China Digital Times for the translations, which I have modified in a few places where I thought it appropriate.

When meeting visitors at the precinct:

* Hey, I am talking to you. Who the hell are you?  嘿!说你哪,你是干什么的.

* Did you hear me? Are you deaf? 听见没有,耳朵聋了.

* It's you again. Aren't you tired of coming in here? 你怎么又来了,烦不烦啊.

* We cannot help you with this matter. Go ask whomever you like about it. 这事儿我们管不了,你爱找谁找谁去.

When handling routine business with citizens:

* This is your own business. So what if you have to come here a few more times? 你自己的事儿,多跑几趟怎么了.

* You still have to wait even if it is urgent. We have rules here. Do you understand? 有急事儿也得等着,这是规矩,明白吗.

* Hurry up. Do you want to do this or not? 快点啊,你办不办.

* It's your problem that you did not have all the papers. No one can help you here. 谁让你不带齐手续的,找谁也办不了.

* No means no. It does not need an explanation. 不办就是不办,没什么理由.

When meeting citizens reporting crimes:

* You want to file a case for such a tiny matter? Do you understand what the law is? 这么点事儿,你也想立案,你懂不懂法呀.

* You don't look like such a good person yourself. 一看你就不是什么好人.

* Do you think you know better than me? 你知道还是我知道啊.

* If you cannot speak clearly, how can you file a report? 话都讲不清楚,还报什么案.

* Do you have evidence? If you don't have evidence, what the hell are you reporting? 你有证据吗,没有证据你瞎报什么案呀.

* I am investigating YOU. Do you have a problem with that? 怎么了,查的就是你.

When mediating disputes

* You both are making trouble? Let's see who can make more trouble. 你们不是闹吗,看你们谁能闹得过谁.

* If you keep on making trouble I will put all of you in jail. 再闹把你们全都弄进去.

By coincidence, the US Department of Justice just last month released a report on the nature and characteristics of contacts between US residents and the police in 2005. The data come from a nationally representative sample of more than 60,000 residents age 16 or older. One finding that surprised me was that about 9 out of 10 persons who had contact with the police in 2005 felt the police acted properly.  There are, on the other hand, some troubling disparities in treatment of minorities. For a summary, see this press release. For a note on this by my colleague Orin Kerr and some interesting discussion in the comments following it, see his Volokh Conspiracy post.

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