Police opens complaints desk

POSTED: 11/7/12 12:39 PM

St. Maarten – Based on recommendations that the office of the Ombudsman made, the police force implemented its complaint desk two weeks ago to serve the community.

Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin-Lynch complimented the force last week ahead of the High Councils of State symposium on good governance, for taking up her suggestion in the wake of a complaint that had been filed at her office.

The internal complaint procedure was a step in the right direction, she said, since it is a learning experience for country St. Maarten.

Police public relations officer Inspector Ricardo Henson told this newspaper that two female officers have been placed in the complaints section but for now they will only work during office hours. Since its implementation people have been making use of the system.

“People have been using this system. I don’t think everyone knows about it. But we want people to know that if they want to file a complaint at the police station they can come speak with the persons who are carrying out this duty. They have to come in person, they cannot do it over the phone,” Henson stated.

Based on the outline Henson provided, when a complainant visits the police station, he or she can expect the two officers to take their statements. The statement will then be sent to the Detective Department where the complainants will be able to “express themselves freely.”

When asked how the complaint desk would deal with complaints against police officers, Henson said “once these complaints are filed then we will channel them to the respective departments who will take it up from there and get back to the complainants.”

He could not provide any information on how many complaints have been made to date nor the nature of most complaints.

The Ombudsman, on the other hand, continues to receive many complaints against the government.

“One of the main complaints that we are receiving from the public is non-response to letters, requests and more. Now you have the Ombudsman which is saying yes you have to answer and provide information within four weeks. You can imagine that within itself is has been a learning experience,” Dr. Arduin-Lynch said.

She added that while her office continues to host information sessions in various districts, they are doing the same thing with the seven government ministries.

She assessed government’s compliance as “reasonable to satisfactory,” adding that the will is there to cooperate with recommendations but there is always room for dialogue.

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