Politics of Law Enforcement: Policing and Police Reform in New Democracies
Choi, Kyong Jun
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Impartial law enforcement is necessary for the rule of law and the stable functioning of a democracy. The maintenance of public order and the enforcement of the law are the minimum requirements expected of a modern democratic state. This dissertation investigates the transformation of the police in new democracies and asks why they have difficulty building capable and impartial law enforcement agencies. Comparative case studies of Korea, Taiwan, and Mexico on the continuity and change of law enforcement illustrate how and why the timing and direction of the transformation occur differently in new democracies. To determine the reasons for the failure to establish capable and impartial law enforcement agencies, this dissertation investigates three factors that contribute to change and continuity at different levels: (1) political democratization (institutional level); (2) police reform initiated by the president (agency/policy level); and (3) international and domestic factors, such as geopolitics and the structure of local politics (structural level). The divergent routes taken by these three countries show that policing in a democracy is different from democratic policing and that the creation of impartial law enforcement agencies does not occur automatically after democratic transitions. Korea has accomplished only partial success in transforming its arbitrary enforcer into an impartial enforcer as it failed to eliminate all remnants of authoritarian policing or the arbitrary enforcement of law. Policing in Taiwan has been transformed from a limited arbitrary enforcer into a mediator, while policing in Mexico remained a palace guard during the period of democratic transition. Politics of police reform and the failure to establish democratic policing in new democracies reveal that democratization is not omnipotent, while the transformation of policing follows its own political logic, sometimes frustrating the desire of society.
- Political science 
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