TAIPEI (CNA) — The National Police Agency (NPA) said on July 4 it will improve police training so that they could carry out their duties with greater safety after a railway police officer was stabbed to death by a passenger on a train in Chiayi the previous day.
Lee Cheng-han (李承翰), a 24-year-old officer from the Chiayi County Police Bureau, was stabbed by a knife-wielding passenger on a northbound train at Chiayi Station at 8:42 p.m. Wednesday.
Lee was called in and was trying to subdue the passenger, who had pulled a knife when the conductor told him he needed to buy a ticket or get off the train.
The police officer was armed with a handgun and a baton but did not use his firearm against the attacker, probably in consideration of the safety of the other passengers in the cramped train car, the NPA said.
Lee was stabbed in the abdomen and he died in hospital at 8:37 a.m. Thursday of liver trauma and cardiac arrest, according to the Railway Police Bureau.
According to regulations governing police use of arms, a police officer on duty may use a truncheon, knife or handgun in a life-threating situation, once the safety of the public would not be at risk, the NPA said.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer has suggested that railway police be equipped with bulletproof vests and allowed to use stun guns in crowded spaces.
Currently, metro police in Taipei, Taoyuan, and Kaohsiung are equipped with stun guns, but railway police are not.
The NPA said it will continue to study how to improve the safety of police in the performance of their duties.
Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) condemned the violence Thursday, saying that it will strengthen measures to bar passengers without tickets from boarding its trains.
Because train conductors are not law enforcement officers, they usually try to deal with unruly passengers by means of persuasion, the TRA said.
Also on Thursday, the Taiwan Railway Labor Union called on the TRA to provide railway workers with better security gear and deterrents such as pepper spray.
In a statement issued after Lee’s death, the labor union said train conductors and station staff could face similar situations.
Train conductors are still equipped only with a single truncheon each, even after an explosion at Songshan train station in Taipei on July 7, 2016, and a knife attack by a passenger on the Taipei metro in 2014 that left four people dead and 22 others injured, the union said.
Lee Chao-ming (李晁鳴), who has worked as a TRA conductor for eight years, said the most prevalent problems encountered by train conductors that result in fines are people trying to ride without a ticket, drunken behavior, and harassment of other passengers.
Lee said that last year, he collected NT$200,000 in payments from passengers who had boarded without a ticket. TRA statistics show that payments by passengers who had board its trains without a ticket amounted to NT$40 million last year, including the fines.
On Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) promised that Lee Cheng-han’s family will receive the best possible compensation, according to Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka.
In addition, the Cabinet will implement an existing plan to assign an additional 260 police officers to the Railway Police Bureau in October, Kolas said.
The police’s equipment will also be upgraded to ensure their safety, she said.
By Liu Chien-pang, Wang Shu-feng, Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao