Countries seek agreement for examination of police skills

The examination of arrest, selfdefence and shooting skills of the Police Forces of Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Caribbean Netherlands islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, and Curaçao and St. Maarten in light of the use of violence will soon be established in a mutual arrangement.

Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur stated in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament earlier this week that he would be seeking to establish a legal basis for this examination in cooperation with the Ministers of Justice of Curaçao and St. Maarten.

The Law Enforcement Council in a recent report titled, “The use of violence by members of the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force, Kingdom Detective Team RST, the Royal Marechaussee and Caribbean Netherlands Judicial Institute JICN” recommended the Dutch Justice Minister to establish a solid legal basis to guarantee the skills of police officers by establishing an examination regarding the use of force.

Van der Steur stated in his letter that these examinations could only be developed and established in cooperation with the countries Curaçao and St. Maarten, based on the Kingdom Police Law.

The Minister promised that within the foreseeable future these examinations would be secured in the format of a mutual arrangement for the examination of members of the individual police forces of Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Caribbean Netherlands, where it pertains the competence in arrest, self-defence and shooting techniques, and the handling of violence.

The Law Enforcement also concluded in its 50-page report that the legal basis for the skills of members of the RST was not solid. According to the Council, there was no clear-cut view among the five RST members as to the legal basis regarding the use of violence by this unit.

Minister Van der Steur stated that he would bring up the issue of the legal basis for the use of force by RST during the December meeting of the Ministers of Justice of the four countries in the Kingdom, the so-called Judicial Four Country Consultation. The intention is to jointly set the standard for the use of force and weapons by RST.

Van der Steur explained that the Police Academy has been asked to train and examine the professional skills of members of the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force, which secures the quality of the police force with the assistance of trained instructors.

The Law Enforcement Council also addressed the carrying of service weapons by police officers outside working hours. “There are no clear-cut agreements on the carrying and storing of service weapons. The Council deems this situation undesirable since this creates risks for the officer and the community.”

Van der Steur stated that he has asked the Chief of the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force to take adequate measures regarding the carrying and storing of service weapons outside working hours. The Minister didn’t define in his letter what these measures were.

Members of the Royal Marechaussee and the Caribbean Netherlands Judicial Institute JICN in Bonaire don’t take their service weapons home. JICN employees can only bring a weapon outside the prison facility in case of the transport of a detainee.

Members of JICN indicated in the research by the Law Enforcement Council that they were worried about the high-risk detainee transports and that they didn’t have the resources that are needed to transport dangerous detainees, such as an armoured vehicle, sufficient bullet-proof vests and special-trained personnel.

According to JICN, there have been no problems with escaping detainees since the introduction of ankle cuffs and connecting chains. However, the Law Enforcement Council didn’t deem the use of ankle cuffs permissible by law.

Van der Steur stated that Caribbean Netherlands prison authority DJI was currently looking at ways to professionalise and improve the transport of high risk detainees. The Minister has asked management of the prison in Bonaire to refrain from using ankle cuffs and to instead use an alternative manner of shackling detainees during transport.

The Daily Herald.

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