Another murder will require more overtime from taxed officers

POSTED: 09/27/11 1:13 PM

Jacobs: “We have had to make choices”

St. Maarten – Another murder and/or violent crime will push an already burdened police force to demand officers put in more overtime and to work on their off days. This position was put forward by Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte and Head of Judicial Affairs Commissioner Denise Jacobs in separate presentations.

De Witte led the charge with the general remark, “You must understand, that with the capacity/manpower that is already involved in ongoing investigations, if another violent and tragic incident with the loss of life takes place, the only way this case could be dealt with is to have police officers work overtime and even on their days off. That loyalty and passion still exists within our police officers, for which I am very grateful.”

Jacobs is also grateful that her colleagues are willing to put in extra hours and to work weekends, but she maintains her long time wish for them not to work 16 hour days, return to incidents while they are on call or off and sometimes to come to work without having slept the night before.

“We have had to make choices including pulling man power from the uniform division to assist in investigations, which results in less blue on the street. This is not advisable,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs stressed the point of capacity versus available resources by stressing that one murder takes roughly 10 full time equivalents (officers) and the average investigation takes three months. She also explained that five of the 10 ongoing murder investigations are being handled by a joint investigation team and the other five are being handled by the police force only, with one or two officers on each murder case. There have been 14 murders for the year. Four have already been solved. Officers are also continuing to work on the 208 violent offences that have already taken place this year.

Both de Witte and Jacobs gave several proposals on how to provide the officers with some rest and to continue to beat back the scourge led to several proposals, with the principal being that they be allowed to “immediately execute their plan of approach” and to give them “all necessary to have this done.”

“We need to work together with other departments and organizations to form an integral “plan of approach” concerning issues to promote crime prevention. Proposals will also be presented which indicate that all forces should come together now to jointly combat crime. A strong governmental approach is needed to achieve the desired connection between the different departments,” Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte said.

Jacobs added that the police want to implement an agreement for working together with the Control Unit and the Voluntary Korps St. Maarten (VKS) that they want to conduct preventative searches in the Philipsburg and then the neighborhoods and for there to be surveillance cameras in Philipsburg. The police are also seeking permission to use unconventional tactics, pressed Parliament to adopt the Law on Special Investigative Powers (BOB), ratify an agreement for them to work with the police on the French side, allow an integral approach, assist in solid information system that will also be linked with other islands in the region so information can be shared and that preventative measures be taken in order to avoid an influx of criminals.

While their requests are being reviewed the police have been able to book some operational progress already as the 13 recruits who are involved in the Basic Police Training Course 2011/2012 will be available to help for four weeks at a time after every eight weeks of training. They have also been able to make a deal with Justice Minister Roland Duncan that at least 36 participants from the BAVPOL course, which ends in December, will be assigned to the police and the 20 police officers recruited from the Netherlands for three years will begin arriving in November and be phased in until February, 2012.

Other efforts at improving operations include drafting of project frameworks that will lead to long lasting improvements, having officers patrol in civilian clothing and conducting noticeable joint controls with Customs and other organizations.

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