China is spending more than ever to upgrade its domestic police force, but it may also be seeking to change its approach by looking to the United States for ideas, says Voice of America News. U.S. law enforcement officials and experts say Beijing is looking to update an antiquated system plagued by outdated crime reporting methods, outmoded equipment and vehicles, and a lack of trust with the people. “They’re really trying to make a professional police force as opposed to just hiring someone, giving them a uniform and putting them in the neighborhood and saying 'defend the party,'” said Washington, D.C., police Sgt. Erik Branson, who has been to China to speak with law enforcement officials about U.S. tactics. Chinese Embassy officials approached him after seeing an article about his role in helping clean up a crime and drug-infested park in Washington.
China's police force is highly centralized and not divided along local, state and federal levels. Branson said the officials he spoke with were less interested in the federal system and more interested in local policing, like how he patrolled on a bicycle and developed good relations with members of the community who, in turn, served as his “eyes and ears” on the ground. “The focus is on local because that’s where the problems are with corruption and insurrection,” Branson said, adding that they want to become more professionalized by learning how American police patrol, how they interact with the community and how they deal with the mass media. For the past three years, elite students from China's prestigious Zhejiang Police College in Hangzhou, China have studied criminal justice for an entire year at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.