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August 15, 2011

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Police show their tender side

SMALLER than most young women her age, Huang Jin seemed shy as she walked toward a group of traffic police to tell them her news.

This is even though she has known some of the officers for the 12 years the squad has been helping her family, and affectionately calls them her "uncles."

"I am going to college this autumn," said Huang, 18, holding the arm of her father, Huang Guoxuan, who is disabled after contracting polio as a child.

While ties are close between the officers and the family, that was not the case back in 2000.

Unable to walk, Huang Guoxuan ferried passengers on his motorized tricycle, a common way for people with disabilities to earn a living at the time.

Police cracked down on the trade and Huang Guoxuan was stopped several times in Putuo District. In questioning he got a reputation for being difficult and uncooperative.

"It scared me," Huang Guoxuan admitted, as he was afraid of losing his family income. His wife was unemployed and their daughter had just enrolled in elementary school.

Relations between the family and the squad improved after Huang Guoxuan quit the tricycle taxi trade and police began visiting them.

Mainly living on government subsidies, the family receive donations from the squad from time to time.

"We call on officers to save the money they would usually use to buy cigarettes every month," said standing squad leader Wang Gang.

Last year, the family also received a computer, an air conditioner and tickets to the World Expo.

Officers in the 30-strong traffic squad come and go, but former members still help out the family.

The squad also helps another family, in which the widower father suffers mental health problems. His daughter graduated this year and found a job.

"All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," said officer Wang Wenhua, quoting Leo Tolstoy.

While shy about expressing her feelings, Huang Jin knows her "uncles" plan to help with her tuition.

When asked about her future plans, Huang Jin replied in a quiet but determined voice.

"I want to be a police officer."


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