Several high-level public security officers have been investigated and punished around China in recent months as part of a national crusade against criminal gangs and organizations.
The police officials have been serving as "protective umbrellas" for criminal activities.
China's social study experts said that the campaign against police officers who have violated the law is a necessary process in the anti-corruption war and will pave the way for a more positive social environment.
Blind eye to gambling
"I became the 'protective umbrella' of illegal merchants. I deserve it [to be punished]. I am a criminal," Cheng Jian, former head of the Jieyun road branch of the Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau of Central China's Henan Province, read from his confession letter in front of more than 1,500 local police officers on July 25, according to the website of the Communist Party of China's (CPC's) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).
Cheng, together with 11 other workmates, used to protect several local casinos, which were operated under the guise of recreation rooms. The casinos also involved drugs.
According to the CCDI website, the upper-level police department had known about the casinos in the Jieyun road region for a long time, but Cheng's branch never conducted an effective crackdown.
Cheng finally admitted that he had received 160,000 yuan ($23,000) from the owner of the casinos through another police station chief, in order to "protect" the casinos.
"I was totally wrong!" Cheng said with regret. "After I admitted to accepting the bribe, I finally slept soundly."
Cheng was expelled from the Party and transferred to the courts to be punished for his illegal behavior.
Killing the chickens
According to the CCDI website, at least 170 police officers involved in criminal gangs and organizations have been under investigation by the supervision department by mid-August.
Chen Enhua, a member of the Party committee and deputy head of the Public Security Department of North China's Hebei Province, was under investigation on suspicion of violating regulations and laws, said cpc.people.com.cn, the official news site of the CPC run by People's Daily.
Chen took the position in January 2013, and retired two months later.
The Supervision Commission of Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, announced on August 29 that Li Dan, chief of the Liaozhong district Public Security Bureau of Shenyang, was also under investigation for the same reason as Chen. Li was also the deputy governor of the district.
Nie Zuokun, deputy governor of Yantai city, who was also the Party secretary of the city's public security bureau, was investigated by the provincial supervisor, according to Beijing-based news site btimes.com on August 31. The report said that Nie was allegedly found to be corrupt when he tried to illegally help arrange for someone to go abroad.
The public security department is the shield of China's politics, so the criminal gangs, in order to grow, want police protection, Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee, told the Global Times on Monday.
Su said that the recent cases indicated that the issue of criminal gangs has been so severe that they even involved some governmental personnel. "In the severest situation, the criminal gangs could take over entire governmental departments."
As a part of the current national campaign of cracking down on criminal gangs, eliminating the "protective umbrellas" in the police is a necessary first step, Su said. "In the anti-corruption war, we cannot ignore any process."
"These police officers have forgotten their original intention of being a Party member and put their selfishness as their first priority," Liu Dezhong, an expert at the Division of Academic Marxist Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said on Monday. "They changed from law-enforcement to law-violation."
Liu noted that as the officers have power and social status, their web of interests is hard to break. "Political education is needed for all police officers to let them understand that they are fighting the key elements that could affect the leadership of the Party and national security."
"They should clear their eyes and root out the few among them who damage the police team," Liu said.
From January to July, public security departments across China have broken up more than 2,500 criminal gangs and organizations, and filed more than 34,000 criminal charges, the Ministry of Public Security said in late August, China News Service reported