Ex-Chief of National Police Bouwman: Police on BES Islands has an integrity problem

The ex-Chief of Police in The Netherlands, Gerard Bouwman, states in a report that the police on the BES islands has an integrity problem. The police in the Caribbean Netherlands has been guilty of non-integer behavior for many years. This concerns the private use of official cars, unauthorized claiming and cashing of overtime and private activities during working time. But there is also a lack of manpower.

This concludes Gerard Bouman, ex-Chief of Police of the national police in The Netherlands. This spring, by order of Minister Ard van der Steur (security and justice), he visited the services in the Caribbean twice. He is of the opinion, that these practices have become part of the “style” of the police force on the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. This behavior is considered normal and not as non-integer behavior.

Bouwman spoke with at least 40 employees (from chief of police chief to officers) and with civil organisations. Based on these interviews, he wrote an advice about KPCN to the Minister. In a memo that accompanied the report, he provides an insight into the integrity of the KPCN. Both  papers are in the hands of newspaper Trouw. This month the Ministry will send the two papers to the Second  Chamber.

Bouwman delivers his observations on a painful moment. As former head of the national police, he is now himself the subject of investigations. Minister Van der Steur contracted a third party – who is still unknown – to examine the role of Bouwman related to the waste of money by the Ondermeningsraad of the national police. Large parts of the budget of the Ondernemingsraad, 1.6 million euros last year, were spend on festive gatherings for the Members and their partners in the Amsterdam Amstel Hotel. Recently, Erik Akerboom, the successor to Bouwman, called these events a ‘ low ‘.

Bouwman is of the opinion that the KPCN on the three islands needs re-calibration of standards and values. According to him, as a general rule, no service vehicles can be used privately and that this is a rule that must be maintained strictly. According to Bouwman, there are also irregularities in the application of the rules for overtime. For example, on Bonaire, the well-known annual holiday Dia di Rincon, is not included in the duty roster. This results, incorrectly, into overtime. ” KPCN should be an organization to be proud of, where one may comment on each others behavior and where one acts integer”, recommends Bouwman.

The police force on the BES Islands (KPCN) exists since October 10, 2010, the day the Islands became special municipalities within the Netherlands. Since the aggregation, progress has been made, but KPCN still does not function properly. The KPCN has a budget of 19.5 million USD (over 17.5 million euro) but is understaffed for performing all tasks, says Bouman. The total of 151.5 postions is too low. That leads to dissatisfaction amongst employees. The top of KPCN with a Chief of Police chief and four Heads of Police, is too heavy. Baldwin recommends a smaller management.

He also criticized the way in which the KPCN is supported. For example, this concerns the procurement of vehicles or means of communication. As an illustration, Bouwman reports an issue with the procurement of mobile telephony. The selected provider performs ok on Bonaire. “But on Saba, on different sides of the mountain, the colleagues  cannot communicate reliably with each other due to insufficient coverage.”

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