Today’s Opinion 2: Facts and figuresPOSTED: 02/27/11 9:11 PM
You’d think that the Netherlands would take proper care of a small island nation it keeps pressing to make a decent job of maintaining law and order.
Here are some real facts and figures to chew on.
The St. Maarten police force is working at 55 personnel under its minimum strength.
The St. Maarten prosecutor’s office is still stuck at eight staff members, while it has to grow to 19.
The police force is supposed to grow to an operational strength of 375.
Currently there is a vacancy stop at the police force.
Some officers work double shifts to get the job done.
Citizens are not very forthcoming with information to help investigators with solving crimes.
The parliament of St. Maarten is dragging its feet with approving legislation to give police and prosecutors the tools to fight cross-border and organized crime.
The new penal code is awaiting approval.
The law that regulates special investigation methods is awaiting approval.
While the president of the parliament sets the agenda, and while the responsible ministers have to present their proposals in the parliament, parliamentarians remain silent in the face of no action.
Yet the state regulation of Country St. Maarten gives parliamentarians the right of initiative.
This means that they have the authority to propose legislation of their own.
The special investigation unit, or landsrecherche, currently consists of the department head Ademar Doran and three investigators.
The unit is unable to get more staff because it has to draw on the police force and that is seriously understaffed.
All these are reasons why some investigations are not taking place (or not yet taking place). Crime never takes a holiday (though we read somewhere a rather ludicrous statement to the opposite), so while the police and the prosecutor’s office remain understaffed, criminals are having a ball.
In spite of all these negative odds, law enforcement managed to solve one murder in particular in record time: the killing of Jean Claude Busquet in December 2009. The killers stood before their judge in March of last year, less than four months after they committed the crime.
At the same time, other murders (David Eustace, Eric Yuan Sam, Leta Cordes) remain unsolved. That’s not because of a lack of effort. It’s due to a lack of staff, but also due to a lack of information that should be coming from the public.
Next time you see a policeman, keep in mind that he may be at the end of his second shift. That does not entitle him to beat you up, of course, but it could explain why some police officers tend to go over the edge.