St. Maarten Police officers disciplined for “fundamental mistakes”

POSTED: 03/18/11 1:58 PM

Cimmaron Marlin satisfied with handling of complaints about his arrest

St. Maarten –  The police officers who detained Talking Drums Foundation president Cimmaron Marlin in front of the police station on February 7th will be disciplined for failing to follow procedures after the arrest. The officers did not tell Marlin why they were arresting him; they did not allow him to make a phone call, and to see the assistant public prosecutor or an attorney. Because of these procedural lapses, no charges will be filed against Marlin.

During a meeting at the police station yesterday afternoon, the police gave Marlin full disclosure of the internal investigation the force initiated after Marlin’s complaints about the circumstances surrounding his arrest. Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte, Commissioner Carl John, Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson and the head of internal affairs George York attended the meeting.

York said that one of the arresting officers had seen Marlin pass something via a string to a detainee on the first floor of the police station.  “There was nothing wrong with the way C. Marlin was apprehended,” York said. “We do not announce when we are about to arrest someone, we use the element of surprise.”

Marlin has claimed that the officers had thrown him on the ground and banged his head against a concrete wall. York said yesterday that the officer had told Marlin the reason for his arrest. “He was brought into the station while the investigation continued. But a few things were not good.”

The things that were “not good.” were that Marlin did not get the opportunity to make a phone call or to talk to a lawyer. “But at no time did officers physically abuse him or beat him. The impression has been given that this happened, but we have cleared this up in a meeting we had with Mr. Marlin.”

When police arrest someone, York said, their actions may come across as “a little rough.” He added that the force has a letter pending for Marlin that explains that disciplinary action will be taken against the officers for not following procedure.”

Commissioner Carl John stressed the importance of these procedures. “A suspect has certain rights and in Mr. Marlin’s case the opportunity to use those rights was not correctly implemented. We will discipline our officers for these fundamental mistakes.”

Commissioner John said that after Marlin’s arrest officers conducted a cell search, whereby all inmates had to be removed from their cells to facilitate the action. Before the search a string was found. According to John, it occurs that outsiders get items into the police station in for instance a sock attached to a string that inmates lower through the airing grates in the side of the building along the D.A. Peterson Street.

The commissioner remained non-committal on the question whether something had been found during the search: “We always find something.”

Cimmaron Marlin maintained in the meeting that the officers did not inform him about the reason for his arrest, but he was almost in awe about the way the police force had dealt with his complaint. “I appreciate you all, even though I have fundamental disagreements,” he said.

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