|A police officer looks at the scene through a caller's cell-phone camera and tracks its location. Courtesy of the Korean National Police Agency|
Police launch "Knock Knock" campaign to help those cornered in silence
By Lee Yeon-woo
A phone rings. "How can I help you?" asks a police officer. The woman on the line answers awkwardly as if she doesn't understand what she was told, "I am at a motel near the overpass. Can you deliver two orders of Chinese noodles here?" Her voice is shaky.
Recognizing instantly that something is wrong and that she is actually asking for help, the police officer clears his throat and asks her again in a calm voice. "Are you with someone who is endangering you? If so, please tell me where you are now."
This reconstructed conversation is based on a real story. In 2018, a police officer working in a police station located in the southern part of Gyeonggi Province received a phone call from a woman who was asking for help. Her abusive boyfriend was with her, so she couldn't speak to the police about what was happening over the phone. Instead, she pretended as if she was ordering a food delivery. The police officer sensed that she was in danger and encouraged her to provide her address. Then the police went to the motel and arrested the offender.
This true story inspired the police to release new guidelines for victims of crimes on how they can ask for help when they are in the presence of their abuser without saying a word. What they can do while calling is press the numbers according to the police officer's instructions.
|The poster for the "Knock Knock" campaign. Courtesy of the Korean National Police Agency|
The police call it the "Knock Knock" campaign. "You've dialed 112 to report a crime but for some reason, you find it difficult to speak. If you are in a situation like this, please press the numbers according to the police officer's instructions to let them know that you are in danger," the campaign poster reads.
Once the police officer makes sure that the person on the phone is reporting a crime in mute mode, he will send the victim a URL link that can trace their location and enable them to chat.
"When the victim doesn't say anything after making a call, we will ask them to press the number buttons on their phone if they are not available to talk. Any numbers on a phone will do," an official from the Korean National Police Agency told The Korea Times.
"They don't even have to turn on the camera app. There's also no need to install other programs or apps. The police can see what's going on through the victim's camera lens as if they are on a video call."
This new system was launched this January as many victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and dating abuse find it hard to report crimes to the police, as they are often in the same space with the abuser.
The number of domestic violence reports has decreased during the pandemic as people have been spending more time at home. According to the statistics of the Korean National Police Agency, 240,439 reports were made in 2019, but the figure gradually decreased to 221,824 in 2020, and 218,680 in 2021.
The police hope this campaign enables the public easily to "knock" on the door of the police. "We expect this campaign to be a solution for both the public and the police. It will not only help people who are in a tough situation to step up but also the police to respond promptly," the Korean National Police Agency said.