To all outward appearances, the Japanese law enforcement system is a paragon of community-based, service-oriented policing: Police officers make house visits, offer directions, arbitrate neighborhood squabbles, and even counsel distraught mothers. So, what has gone wrong? According to this respected American criminologist, very little. "No system in the world is without its flaws . . . I do not believe that these abuses and missteps, regardless of their widespread, well-publicized notoriety, are symptomatic of a systemic breakdown."
In comparison, his evaluation of the situation in the U.S. is decidedly negative. According to Parker, the U.S. law enforcement system is an eight-cylinder car chugging along on six cylinders. "We currently have a fragmented patchwork of inefficient, marginally trained and poorly equipped police forces," he writes.
Nevertheless, Parker is not totally uncritical of the Japanese police force, citing the 1999 case of Stephen O'Toole as an example of how its overzealousness for convictions can lead to gross violations of civil liberties.
Sunday, April 21, 2002
By PHILIP ZITOWITZ
Read on yourself