Female cops use humanitarian qualities to fight crime

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A couple out on several roadside dates late into the night have managed to arrest three thieves who attempted to rob them in central Quang Nam Province.

One half of the couple, Nguyen Thi Ha, was actually a police officer masquerading as a lover to try and solve a series of night robberies reported by residents on National Road 1A that runs through the province's Tam Ky Town. Her boyfriend was a male colleague from the police force.

Soon after Ha and her colleague caught the three robbers in June last year, Tam Ky police were able to arrest six other members of the gang responsible for at least 12 previous robberies.

Ha is among many policewomen who have been outstanding on the job, taking advantage of common gender perceptions to accomplish tasks that their male counterparts cannot.

The 39-year-old lieutenant says she cannot remember how many cases she has participated in since joining the town's police force in 1997.

"I am always required to participate in any kind of investigation that requires a female role," she says, adding that she is the only female officer in the town police department's investigation unit.

Ha was awarded several certificates of merit last year by the Quang Nam Police Department and Tam Ky People's Committee for her accomplishments, which includes raiding major drug smuggling rings.

Ha jokes that now she loves bracing for the night. "It's interesting and challenging at the same time. Now I have this urge to be aware of something that can happen if I spot a group of young kids at night."

Sharp eyes and ears

The Ministry of Security's Police Department has uncovered several major cases of fraud in recent years thanks to a policewoman who was the first one to spot questionable details that sparked the investigations.

Nguyen Thi Thai Hoa , 52, has been granted certificates of merit twice by the Prime Minister, besides several honor titles by the Ministry of Public Security for her accomplishments during the past 24 years.

In 2008, she collected important evidence to uncover a case where an official of a construction company had stolen billions of dong by illegally selling electric cables at the construction sites he was managing.

Hoa began investigating the case after learning of the facts from her friends during a conversation.

Police then found Nguyen Viet Hai of Song Da 11.3 Enterprise having stolen a large amount of new electric cables, valued at more than VND8 billion (US$457,000), from two power line projects, Ban La - Vinh in Nghe An Province and Hoanh Bo â€" Mong Duong in Quang Ninh Province.

In another case, Hoa detected a major land swindle in 2004 following up on a few words she overheard by chance from a group of workers passing her on the sidewalk in Ho Chi Minh City.

The workers of a local cigarette company were complaining to each other about having to wait for a long time after having bought land.

Investigators later found director Tran Van Giao of Dong Phuong Ltd. Co. had swindled nearly 1,000 people of hundreds of billions of dong by selling the same land plots to many people. He was sentenced to death before it was reduced to life imprisonment by an appeals court in HCMC in 2004.

Compassion and patience

The staff at Chi Hoa Prison in HCMC have repeatedly expressed their appreciation for having a female police officer who has succeeded in getting inmates to cooperate in solving many cases by treating them with love and compassion.

Lieutenant-colonel Pham Thi Tro, who was assigned the task of managing the prison's hospital two years ago, said it was her role to coax the goodness in those who had made mistakes in their lives.

Recently, she encouraged a woman, who was arrested after being caught red-handed carrying a large amount of drugs, to cooperate with investigators, which helped the woman get a more lenient sentence.

Tro says the woman was pregnant when admitted to the prison's hospital and was focused on committing suicide. But under Tro's persuasion, she changed her mind, and gave birth to her baby.

"I shared my experiences with her and told her to concentrate on giving birth and on the future of the baby."

Hoang Thi Mai Huyen, 30, the only female police officer in HCMC Police Department's drug investigation unit, is also well-known for her patience in investigating criminals.

She said the toughest criminal she was in charge of interrogating was a major drug dealer arrested a few years ago.

Instead of adopting a threatening attitude, Huyen secretly undertook further investigation and showed the results to the woman who later confessed to her smuggling eight months after being arrested.

For the people

Many female police officers have won the hearts of residents with their friendliness and responsibility in maintaining public security at various localities.

The police department of Binh Dinh Province says policewoman Nguyen Thi Hong Van of Ly Thuong Kiet Ward in Quy Nhon Town is feared by criminals and loved by local residents.

"Being a local police official is as difficult as taking care of small babies," she says. "We have to understand and share with the residents even as we maintain public security."

Van says she receives calls from residents who even ask her to solve problems of cuts in power and water supply.

"Sometimes, people call me to the site just to be a witness as she/he is insulted by some other person."

She says such calls are annoying but she is happy because the residents trust and need her.

Van has helped change the behavior of a group of local teenagers who used to cause considerable public nuisance and is currently helping a ten-year old boy to return to school after he dropped out following his mother's diagnosis of mental illness.

Deputy Police Chief of Ward 11 in HCMC's Binh Thanh District, Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, who had been in the force for 30 years, is also loved by residents in localities that she has served.

"Compassion and love are important qualities of a police official," she says.

A vital part of her management strategy has been to visit people's homes and listen to their difficulties.

As a police officer in Binh Thanh District's Ward 13, with a total of 30,000 residents, Ngoc and other police officials visited the residents' houses to instruct them on how to register and obtain household certificates. This was a major wish among many residents because they had migrated from other provinces and didn't have the certificate.

"I have worked there [ward 13] for a long time. I can recognize each one of them and remember their stories by just listening to their voices."

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