Charles “Charlie” Smink is the new chief of The Netherlands Police Force Saba (KPCN-Saba). Smink takes over for Heleen Prins who had run the island’s police. Smink and Prins had worked together on the motorbike patrol in the Royal Military Constabulary (KMAR) in Amsterdam. That was in the 90s. Smink’s career has spanned more than 35 years in many different police capacities, including as an investigator, firearm instructor and SWAT team member. He served in the military during the 1994 war in Serbia. His most recent deployment was as part of a 25-person task force in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria where he handled illegal immigration and human trafficking.
The new chief said he hopes to use his experience leading a multicultural task force for the benefit of KPCNSaba. He said he is willing to learn from local approaches on improvising solutions to challenges with very limited resources. In the last few months, Prins had sent Smink weekly updates about police developments on Saba as well as briefings about the job. Last week the two went to Bonaire and had the briefing from the headquarters of KPCN.
Prins said she was satisfied with the work her small team accomplished. She concluded “with limited resources we achieved a lot and even though this might not have satisfied all residents I want to ask the people of Saba, if they have complaints to bring them to the police office.” She said residents had often complained about, among other things, prostitution in media and other public forums. But their refusal to file official reports has left the police unable to act. “People on Saba are either afraid of or related to those who are committing the crime and they are not willing to come forth,” Prins said. In her tenure, police had curtailed the problem of young people loitering and harassing people in Windwardside. Chief Prins also received praise for creating a police officer twinning programme between the KMAR and KPCN, resulting in a stronger law-enforcement team spirit. She said she is optimistic about the arrival of a community policing officer in September and the return of an officer who is finalizing his courses on Bonaire. She is returning to The Netherlands where she re-joins as investigations team leader. She said her experience on Saba was different from her military stints in war zones, adding that she hopes to have left a stronger police force.