Hanoi police taskforce acts without fear or favor

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A special taskforce the Hanoi police set up four months ago to crack down on traffic violations and crimes has been praised by residents for doing its job without fear or favor.

For netizens constantly complaining that relatives and friends of government and other officials get away with murder on the roads, sometimes literally, Taskforce 141 has come as a breath of fresh air.

Its five teams of plainclothes officers from the traffic, crime, and mobile divisions have already hauled up offenders who claim to be highly connected.

Lt. Col. Thieu Manh Ngoc of the taskforce, who feels "children and relatives of police officials should face even stricter punishment," tells about the time officers fined Nguyen Chi Linh for flouting road rules and preventing officers from performing their duty.

The 17-year-old challenged the cops saying he was a nephew of Lt. Gen. Nguyen Duc Nhanh, the chief of the Hanoi police.

On another occasion, the taskforce found Nguyen Khanh Hung, 27, in possession of a gun after his luxury car was pulled over. He then threatened to call a deputy prime minister but he was still taken to the police station.

Possessing weapons is a crime in Vietnam, and the police are continuing their investigation.

Nhanh, the Hanoi police chief, said since its establishment, the taskforce had caught nearly 5,000 offenders, of whom 500 could face criminal charges, and seized nearly 400 illegal items including guns, swords, knives, and drugs.


"The statistics are, however, less important than the effect of the operation, which has reduced crime and ensured security in public places," he said.

Dao Thanh Hai, chief of the crime branch, said the incidence of crime had fallen dramatically, to just 10 percent of the old rate in downtown areas, and there was a significant reduction in street racing, a major problem earlier.

The taskforce has become popular with the citizenry, as Thanh Nien witnessed, with people happily buying water and beverages for the officers.

The Hanoi police have decided to keep the taskforce going until at least after Tet (January 23) though the original plan was to disband it in three months.

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