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Police answer call in record time
2021-01-12 
Policemen with the 110 unit patrol a street. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ever-ready Zhangzhou city unit responds with incredible speed to help the public, Wang Ru reports. 

When police officer Guo Shaoxiang worked in the public security bureau of Xiangcheng district, Zhangzhou city, Fujian province, in 1990, he found that since the establishment of the hotline 110 in 1985, it was dialed just 22 times in the previous five years. This seemed a clear case of underreporting. For instance, just in May of that year, 27 robberies occurred in the district.

To make better use of the hotline, Guo applied to move it from the duty room to the patrol police's office, so that they could quickly arrive at a scene and have a better chance to solve problems. He also spent his own money taking out advertisements about 110, a designated emergency number, in the local TV station.

"At that time, the patrol police only patrolled. And 110 operators only answered the phone, transferred people's requests to the concerned departments, and waited for the department to handle it. This, of course, was time-consuming. The parts were totally separated, and we took the initiative to combine them, and make patrol police reach crime scenes to deal with people's problems as soon as they received the calls," says policeman Huang Haiqiang.

Later, a pregnant woman dialed to ask the police to take her to the hospital since her family members were away and she was about to deliver. The police helped her, but some complained that they worked like housekeepers instead of police.

Guo then started a discussion in the bureau about the duties of the police.

"We used to believe police only work to battle crime, but many people actually dialed when they had some daily problems. Guo led us to put ourselves in others' shoes, considering what we would have chosen to do if the woman was our family member. Finally we decided to provide a service beside our duty in fighting crimes," Huang says.

Guo's creativity and spirit of serving people made his team, now known as Zhangzhou 110, famous nationwide. Zhangzhou 110 refers to the patrol police responsible for patrolling Xiangcheng and Longwen districts of Zhangzhou, and solving problems after receiving 110 calls. The team has won dozens of prizes at provincial, ministerial and national levels, and was praised by President Xi Jinping as the "people's guardian angel" in 1996 when he worked in Fujian.

Weekly training keeps them on their toes. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Police personnel of the Zhangzhou 110 emergency call service help a woman who got lost in 2017. They have built a reputation of helping people quickly. [Photo provided to China Daily]

On Sunday, the first Chinese People's Police Day, Zhangzhou 110 was awarded the title of "role model of the times" by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Zhangzhou 110 now has 224 members with an average age of 30, and they are divided into different groups responsible for patrolling and providing technological support.

Xu Yi, 36, became a policeman and joined the team in 2018 after serving in the army for 12 years. He finds the team takes serving people as its core value. "In order to give people a sense of security, we tried every means to establish a quick reaction mechanism," says Xu.

He realized the need of speed at work not long after he joined. "We received a call telling us a family home in a building was on fire, and we rushed to the spot in two minutes. Usually we wait for the fire brigade's arrival, but the building was located in a small alley, meaning the fire engine would not be able to access it. Moreover, the house owner, the husband, was away, but he couldn't get in touch with his wife and didn't know if she was in the burning house.

"As a result, we felt we couldn't wait and broke into the house to see if there were any people. We found the fire had started in the kitchen, where a gas cylinder was stored, so we extinguished the fire in case it might explode. Later, when I recalled this incident, I still couldn't help thinking what would happen if we had arrived later and the cylinder exploded. It makes me realize the importance of speed," says Xu.

The jurisdiction area of Zhangzhou 110 has been divided into 11 police districts, in which the police patrol in turns. When incidents happen, those who are patrolling in that district will arrive at the spot in less than five minutes.

"Under some special circumstances, we are allowed to arrive in 10 minutes, others require less than five, or we need to write a report to explain. We have strict demands on the speed of arrival," says Xu.

Wang Haozheng who was in charge of a real estate company in Zhangzhou, has an impressive memory of the police's speed. He recalls once he dialed 110 and felt anxious so he lit a cigarette. When the police arrived, he had barely consumed half of the cigarette, which "made me realize their amazing speed", says Wang.

Now, Zhangzhou 110 receives reports of 107.8 incidents every day on average. Police arrive at the incident scene in five minutes 86.04 percent of the time, and 10 minutes for nearly 100 percent.

Two officers greet a citizen in need with a salute during patrol. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Police officers at Zhangzhou 110 emergency call service in Fujian province receive requests for help. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhangzhou 110 has also improved its speed in handling the incidents, starting investigations as quickly as possible with the help of technology, according to Huang, who now works as the captain of the team.

With the urbanization, there is an increasing number of residential buildings, and some of them are numbered in a haphazard way, posing challenges for police to find the exact location.

"In about 2000, we drew the distribution of buildings, so that we could find it more easily the next time. Several years later, we used graphic software to make clear the location of the buildings. Now with the help of some apps, we can search the location of the more than 3,000 residential buildings in our jurisdiction area," says Huang.

Zhangzhou 110 has made many other institutional innovations and reforms over the years. For example, police went to incident spots from their patrolling instead of from the police station in 1996. Longwen district was added to Zhangzhou 110 for jurisdiction in 2010, and by using modern technology, police can see the incident spot directly on a screen in a police station.

Requests for help sometimes still go to Zhangzhou 110, and they help deal with the urgent ones, but the less urgent others now go to other departments.

Since 2016, Zhangzhou 110 has arrested 2,318 various suspects, and received 1,214 grateful letters and banners from people.

Speaking about the praise in being described as the "people's guardian angel", Huang says: "People are the direction of our work, guardian is the content of work, and angel is the request for our abilities.

"We will continue serving people, which we have done for more than 30 years, and adjusting ourselves. Now we are actively exploring the use of advanced technology, like drones, in our work."

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