Police officers attempted cover-up of wrong-way driving

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Osaka prefectural police department headquarters

OSAKA — Two police officers in Osaka Prefecture have been disciplined for driving a police car the wrong way down a street while on duty and trying to cover up their traffic violation.

The Osaka prefectural police department issued a severe warning to the 41-year-old lieutenant involved in the case and a lesser warning to his 26-year-old colleague on Dec. 20 for their attempt to cover up the violation by feigning an emergency run and erasing the video of the drive taken by the vehicle’s dashcam. The older officer was also demoted down one rank from lieutenant.

According to the prefectural police department, the car carrying the two officers, who both belong to the Yodogawa Police Station in Osaka City, entered a one-way street going the wrong way while the two were on patrol at around 4 p.m. on Nov. 8. The 26-year-old officer was driving with the lieutenant in a passenger seat, and he took the car about 45 meters up the road.

After realizing their mistake, the two turned on the car’s police lights and siren to make it seem as if the vehicle was on an emergency run, as such runs can exempt police officers from being charged with traffic violations. The two then called out to a man on a bicycle as if they had been pursuing him, and then erased the footage of the incident taken by the car’s dashcam, according to the prefectural police department.

Other officers from the same station witnessed the vehicle driving in the wrong direction and reported the incident to the station. During interrogations, the two officers initially claimed that they were driving the car on an emergency run because they were in pursuit of a suspicious person.

However, in addition to the dashcam the police car was equipped with a drive recorder, which contained recordings of comments by the 41-year-old officer, such as “This isn’t good” and “I’ll erase [the video].” The two eventually admitted that they tried to cover up the incident.

The older officer said he executed the cover-up “to protect myself,” while the younger one said he “could not stop” his senior colleague, according to the prefectural police department, which believes that the senior officer had a leading role in the cover-up.

The prefectural police department issued a traffic ticket to the 26-year-old officer, and removed both men from patrols in police cars. The older officer requested his demotion himself.