Four Saba residents took the oath and accepted their new task as special enforcement officers (“buitengewoon agent van politie”) for the Public Entity Saba on Tuesday, July 26. They will be known as ‘BavPol enforcers.’
Bobby Zagers, Justin Yu and Thompson Thomas are employees of the Public Entity Saba while Marijn van der Laan works at the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF). They will join the BavPol team already occupied by Alexandria Hassell and Randall Johnson. Caribbean Netherlands Police Force (KPCN) Chief Jose Rosales together with KPCN education coordinator Lionel Vrutaal performed the swearing in on behalf of Dutch Minister of Justice and Safety Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.
The four new special enforcement officers took a 2-week enforcement course, they passed the exam and received the approval of the local triangle meeting between the Island Governor, the KPCN and the Caribbean Netherlands Public Prosecutor’s Office. In total, Saba now has 6 active special enforcement officers. Special enforcement officers don’t wear a weapon, but they can issue a warning and fine. When working, the BavPol enforcers will be clearly identifiable. They will either wear an official ‘handhaving’ uniform or they will wear a formal Public Entity Saba or SCF-issued polo or shirt in combination with a BavPol ID card. The uniforms were kindly provided by the municipality of Amsterdam and will allow the enforcers to be visible as enforcers in the Saba community.
Bobby Zagers said as a special enforcement officer, he could act in the inspection of the technical integrity of building structures and whether people have a building permit. Justin Yu said that being a special enforcement officer will contribute to his work at the Fort Bay harbor, to keep the premises cleaner and safer, and to see to proper docking management.
Thompson Thomas is already an enforcer at the Public Entity. As a special enforcement officer, he will focus on people adhering to the general local ordinance (APV) and the new traffic ordinance. He can act in cases of nuisance, violations in the public space and parking issues.
Park ranger Marijn van der Laan said being a special enforcement officer was important for his job in the marine park in enforcing the marine environmental laws. “This gives me more possibilities to act when people commit a violation, such as anchoring in the marine park, damaging the corals or other marine life. We also keep an eye on invasive species,” said van der Laan.
The special enforcement officers that are now appointed for the Public Entity Saba have comparable investigative authorities as police officers, they can enforce on certain local or national ordinances that require administrative enforcement and on a number of criminal matters. For matters that are of a criminal law nature, the Public Prosecutor’s office will extend the fine, just as they do for the police.
The line between criminal law enforcement and administrative law enforcement in practice does not always have to be strict. The special enforcers can also collaborate with the police officers and the Caribbean Netherlands Prosecutor’s Office in various situations.
An example is the enforcement of nature and environment laws and regulations, where the special enforcement officer from the marine park can issue a report to the prosecutor office of illegal activity such as anchoring in protected areas. In situations like that, the prosecutor office will then decide to further prosecute or not based on the reporting that is done by the special enforcement officer.
Cooperation between police, prosecutor’s office, and the Public Entity Saba, is imperative in the enforcement of local administrative laws. These three organizations have their own duties and responsibilities and expertise in certain fields.
“The appointment of these four new special enforcers at the Public Entity Saba is most welcome. Having additional work capacity available for administrative law enforcement is another step in furthering our developments on good governance as a local government body. Having the capacity to enforce the rules and regulations put in place by the Island and Executive Council increases the legitimacy and reliability of our local government,” said Gerald Simmons, department head of safety and legal of the Public Entity Saba.