At least 24 assaults against traffic police officers have been reported in Vietnam this year, according to the Road and Railway Traffic Police Bureau.
In Hanoi alone, 10 traffic policemen were injured in 12 cases. Several officers were hit or even run over while attempting to stop vehicles running red lights.
Twenty seven suspects have been detained in relation to the rash of violence against traffic cops in the capital city.
On Tuesday, Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Tran Son of C67 Traffic Police Bureau told Thanh Nien that most violators were young people aged 18-35.
Most offenders were not wearing helmest and/or not carrying driver's licenses.
In others cases, traffic police had flagged violaters down for running red lights or driving with more than two people on a single bike.
But police reported several instance in which violators had deliberately steered their vehicles into traffic officers before fleeing the scene.
Others had verbally or physically abused officers after unsuccessfully begging for leniency.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tran Ngoc Anh of the Hanoi Traffic Police Department said all defendants who resist traffic police will be strictly punished, without any exceptions.
One of the most notorious cases was reported early this month, when an 18-year-old girl was filmed repeatedly slapping and verbally abusing two police officers on a Ho Chi Minh City street after they stopped her mother for driving with two teenagers on her motorbike.
At around 4:30 p.m. on July 2, Sergeant-major Nguyen Duc Anh and Vu Quang Long (a provisional officer) stopped Truong Thi Hanh, 37, on Le Van Khuong Street in District 12 for riding with Pham Thi My Linh and Pham Minh Quang on the back of her bike.
When the police officers asked Hanh to produce her driver's license, she said she didn't have one.
After Anh informed Hanh that her bike would be impounded for 10 days (the standard punishment for those caught driving without a license), Hanh refused to give up the vehicle. Her daughter, Linh, then shoved Anh in an attempt to keep him from taking the bike.
The girl was filmed repeatedly slapping Long's face while crying and swearing at him before collapsing in the street.
The two officers didn't react until backup arrived at the scene.
Linh continued to scream and insisted on keeping the bike, even after additional officers arrived.
Hanh told the police that Linh was crazy and agreed to accompany the officers to the local police station.
She later apologized to the officers, saying that her daughter suffered from asthma and a nervous disorder. The mother said that she had no idea why her daughter had chosen that time to lash out, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Le Van Ray of the District 12 Police.
Hanh has yet to produce any medical evidence of Linh's health problems, Ray said, adding that he was waiting for the findings of a police investigation.
Meanwhile, Hanh will be punished for her violations in accordance with transportation laws, he said.
Crime and punishment
Colonel Nguyen Duc Chung, deputy director of Hanoi Police Department, said the lenient punishments imposed on traffic violators who resist police would only fuel an increase in the number of assaults.
"Obviously, regulations are not strong enough to deter them from resisting police officers," he told Tuoi Tre newspaper.
According to Article 257 of the Criminal Code, those charged with "resisting public officers" can be sentenced to between three years' probation and six months' imprisonment.
In cases of organized assault or repeated assaults, or if one incites others to attack police officers and causes serious damages, the jail terms can range between two and seven years.
Most traffic violators who resist police officers pay fines rather than serving jail terms.
Colonel Chung also admitted that a number of police officers acted improperly while on duty, which led to discontent and resistance to authority.
The Hanoi Police Department has asked ordered it's officers to behave better and use conflict mediation skills, according to Tuoi Tre.
MAJOR CASES OF ASSAULT AGAINST TRAFFIC COPS
-On July 17, a taxi driver drove away after being stopped by police officers in Hanoi's Ngoc Khanh Ward, dragging an officer, with his arm stuck in the car door, down the road.
-On June 22, a squad of Hanoi traffic police stopped a truck on Tran Quang Khai Street for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
Two men in the truck repeatedly insulted the police and resisted their orders to exit the vehicle. One man grabbed an officer's cell phone and smashed it on the ground. He also snatched a badge from another officer's uniform.
After being taken to a police station, he loudly threatened to notify the media about police abuse.
-On March 19, an executive director of a local company was asked by a police officer to produce his driver's license after he was pulled over for driving his car in the wrong lane at an intersection in Hanoi. The man began abusing the officer, calling him names and slapping him in the face until his cap fell off.
-On January 27, two men on a motorbike were stopped by a traffic police team in Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Binh District for reckless driving.
While a police officer looked through the driver's papers, the passenger hurled a brick at his face and rushed in to attack the officers. The driver followed.
After the officer fired a warning shot with his service revolver, the two men quickly fled the scene. One of their friends later showed up from an alley and smashed the windshield of a police patrol car with a brick.
The two men later returned to the scene to cause more havoc. One allegedly threw a flower pot at the feet of an officer and another lunged at the officers with a piece of wood.
They were arrested after reinforcements arrived and subdued the assailants.
That same day, a motorbike driver was pulled over for driving his motorbike without a helmet down Bach Dang Street in Ho Chi Minh City. When traffic police signaled for ? ihim to stop, he pulled out two knives and attempted to stab the police.
He was subdued and apprehended by the officers soon afterward.