SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- The presidential office, the government and the ruling party agreed Thursday on the introduction of a local autonomous police system in five major cities and provinces this year as a pilot project before expanding the system nationwide in 2021.
Senior officials from Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the ruling Democratic Party held a consultative meeting to discuss how to implement the system in which many national police duties will be handed over to local police units to be put under direct control of local governments.
Currently, all South Korean police forces, except for those in Jeju Province, belong to the central government. Introducing the local autonomous police system was one of President Moon Jae-in's campaign pledges in the 2017 presidential election.
Cho Jung-sik, chief policymaker of the ruling party, said after the meeting that the pilot project will be conducted in the cities of Seoul, Sejong and Jeju, and two other locations under consideration.
According to a plan discussed by the three parties, local autonomous police are empowered to carry out duties involving residents' livelihoods and related local issues, such as public safety, women, youth and traffic.
The plan also calls for the envisioned autonomous police to gain rights to investigate obstruction of justice and conduct initial criminal investigations on par with the national police force.
Under the plan, local governments will not increase manpower for the autonomous police and a total of 43,000 people will be transferred to the autonomous police from the national police force in three phases.
Heads of local governments are authorized to designate those who are lead local police bodies, enabling them to come up with policies to keep peace and order that are relevant to individual areas.