The Ministry of Public Security is the principal Chinese police authority. The ministry had functional departments for areas such as intelligence, police operations, prisons, and political, economic, and communications security. Subordinate to the ministry were provincial-level public security departments; public security bureaus and subbureaus at the county level (the bureaus located in the prefectures and large cities, the subbureaus in counties and municipal districts); and public security stations at the township level. While public security considerations had a strong influence at all levels of administration, the police appeared to wield progressively greater influence at the lower levels of government.
The organization of local public security stations could be inferred from the tasks with which the police were charged. Generally, each station had sections for population control, pretrial investigations, welfare, traffic control, a detention center, and other activities.
In the 1980s the public security station--the police element in closest contact with the people--was supervised by the public security subbureau as well as by local governments and procuratorates. The procuratorate could assume direct responsibility for handling any case it chose, and it supervised investigations in those cases it allowed the public security station to conduct. A great deal of coordination occurred among the public security organs, the procuratorates, and the courts, so that a trial was unlikely to produce a surprise outcome.
Police were drawn from every segment of the population without restriction as to sex or ethnic origin. Selection was based on political loyalty, intelligence, and health, as it was for the PLA. Most recruits had Communist Youth League backgrounds or were former PLA personnel. There was at least one police school in every provincial-level unit, and others were operated by municipalities.
Usually those police designated for leadership positions attended the police schools, and patrolmen were trained at the unit and on the job. Legal training was emphasized as a method of improving the quality of the police forces. In 1985 three institutions of higher learning for police personnel--the University of Public Security, the University of Police Officers, and the Institute of Criminal Police--offered more than twenty special courses. Students were recruited from senior-middle-school graduates under twenty-two years of age, with a waiver to twenty-five years of age for those having a minimum of two years' experience in public security work.The Science and Technology Bureau, operating under the Ministry of Public Security, is in charge of national scientific and technical administration that is related to the public security. Computers are extensively used in criminal investigation, traffic control and communication. A fingerprint search system was computerized in 1986. In 1987, a special police communication network linking all the police agencies at the county level and above was established. A radio communication network at provincial level was also established in the 1980s.
The Chinese People's University of Police Officers was established in 1980 as the Institute of International Politics. It provided training for public security cadres, along with training for counterintelligence and political security cadres. When the former Central Investigation Department training institute became part of the Ministry of State Security, the Institute of International Politics, which remained part of the Ministry of Public Security, was renamed the Chinese People's University of Police Officers. Its counterintelligence department still supplies the Ministry of State Security each year with a small number of cadres, while graduates of other departments primarily work for the Ministry of Public Security.