St. Maarten Police Chief Peter De Witte: “New generation will be more outspoken and opinionated”

POSTED: 10/11/13 2:10 PM

St. Maarten – “It feels as if the police force is constantly taking exams from a rigid teacher,” Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte said in his address yesterday during the celebration of the third anniversary of the force as an independent entity.

The remark refers to the committees and institutions that were involved with the buildup of the “most of the time starting all over again, answering the same questions to receive afterwards a report stating what can be done better.”

But one report he described as “uplifting:” that from the visitation committee that was published earlier this year. It concluded that the police force’s legitimacy has increased among the population. “This was a great gift, because without this legitimacy the police force is powerless.”

De Witte said that the new generation St. Maarteners will be more outspoken and opinionated.  The criticism will be directed to the local government, civil servants and institutions, not to a faraway country. I can imagine a future where children raise questions like: what has been done to make and maintain our country safe?”

The Chief Commissioner referred to a raid in an unspecified neighborhood whereby a 120-strong force of police, immigration and customs officers went after drugs and weapons. “It was said that the police would not come because this neighborhood had become so dangerous,” De Witte said. “Our approach was efficient, self-assured and well prepared. Someone said it was like a silent movie. In two hours we had done the investigation and everything was under control.”

“What is so special about this?” the Chief Commissioner said, answering his own questions with one word: “Everything.”

The joint action showed that working together with other justice services shows strength, that the police force is capable to deal with large scale operations in a professional manner. Most of all, De Witte said, the action showed that no-go areas do not exist for the police:  “If we have to act we will be there with all we need and with all forces that are necessary and available.”

The chief commissioner said that by the end of next year the plan of approach for the police force has to be completed; this includes the so-called functionhouse and also the placement plan. “This will bring peace of mind and opportunities for our people. We have to grow in quality and quantity. The end of 2014 will be a kind of final exam for all of us. Embrace the help of all the teachers that you may encounter during the upcoming year.”

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