PHILIPSBURG–Improved communication between police and the public and the establishing of the legal status of police personnel were among the recommendations of the Audit Committee Report (Visitatierapport) on the police force, which was presented to Justice Minister Dennis Richardson on Friday.
Richardson said the public can be assured that all efforts will be made to ensure that the recommendations are executed. He said the recommendations are “good” and they have his full support.
“You can count on me to using all possibilities and energies that I have to see to it that the recommendations made in the report are executed and carried out,” Richardson told reporters shortly after receiving the document at the ministry.
He said the police force is the first and only organisation that has been audited in this manner since St. Maarten became a Country in the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010. “I think it’s a good step in a good direction,” he noted.
Chief of Police Peter de Witte said in a statement to The Daily Herald that one of the most important conclusions of the committee is that the confidence of the people of St. Maarten in the police force is increasing. The conclusions also indicate that there is “more blue” on the streets. The Police Chief said with the ongoing development of the community policing, the police and the community are getting much closer to each other.
The committee noted that the quality of the work at the detective department is increasing, in particular the quality of the police reports and the way investigations are prioritized, which the police call case screening. Together with the Prosecutor’s Office, the police have established a Steering Committee which makes decisions in matters of investigations and also watches over the progress of investigations, de Witte said.
“Of course we have much more to learn and we intend to do so,” he added.
The Audit Committee has recommended that authorities move towards the establishing of the legal status of officers and ratify the organisation matrix, job descriptions and financial independence of the force. De Witte said together with Richardson, this process will be speeded up.
Another recommendation is to improve the communication with the public. “We believe this is very important and we will surely work to improve that. So we will take this positive rapport from the [Audit, Ed.] Committee very seriously and together with the Minister of Justice and other stakeholders we will keep up the efforts to improve our police force in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten,” said de Witte.
The Audit Committee report was commissioned jointly by the Minister of Justice and the Progress Committee (officially known in Dutch as the Voortgangscommissie St. Maarten).
The Progress Committee was established by Royal Decree to ensure that the agreements between The Netherlands, the former Netherlands Antilles and the former island territories of Curaçao and St. Maarten, with regard to Curaçao and
St. Maarten obtaining country status, are implemented and that the national tasks of the new countries are executed as agreed upon.
Members of the Progress Committee are Chairman Ronald Bandell, Secretary Gert-Jan Stortelers, Richard Gibson Sr., Nico Schoof and Deputy Secretary Terrance Rey.