Sunday , May 28 2023

Opinion: Police terror on Saba should stop

Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to the Management of the police force on Saba.  I request urgent and effective actions from this Management to stop police officers terrorizing the Saban community.

In most civilized communities the parents teach their children that “the Police is your friend. Be kind to them and respect them.” It seems that on Saba, this is no longer true. A series of serious incidents between police officers and common civilians have proved that the community has an issue with the attitude of several police officers currently serving on the island.

We have the recent report from Tricia Chammaa who has been held for several hours because of a traffic violation. In a civilized community the police would deal with this case  with a simple ticket. Apparently not on Saba! Although the response of the police is not what a sane person would expect from officers on an island with less than 2000 inhabitants, one could consider it to be  an exception of persons with an attitude issue.

However, seen in a wider context, we can observe that the attitude problem of some Saban police officers is not exceptional, but consistent. See the report in the comments to the articles and in this Newspaper.

This is a very serious event where a normal, average, well educated citizen is put in custody for very questionable reasons. What is worse, the behavior of the police officers is supported by their superiors in Bonaire through a press release (See the article There seems to be  problem in police headquarters in Bonaire as well.

Of course, in both cases it is the word of the accused party against the police and guess who wins?

But then there is this other, earlier case where Gucchi, a well respected citizen of Saba, is being attacked by, what later proved to be, an officer in plain cloths. In this case there is no doubt about the sequence of events as video recordings of security camera’s prove.

Gucchi attacked inside Big Rock Market
Gucchi attacked inside Big Rock Market

Through undisclosed sources, I got hold of the security recordings so now you can now all see what really happened: In the first recording   we see Gucchi inside the private premises of Big Rock Market without a t-Shirt, as usual, already for many years. Everybody happy. Then we see a civilian, who does not identify himself as a police officer, suddenly attacking Gucchi without any apparent reason. Gucchi is pushed against his will into the public space of the street. It appeared later that the attacker was a police officer.

In a second recording ( we look through the camera observing the entrance of Big Rock Market. It is shown how Gucchi is attacked a second time by the same police officer. Other police officers got alerted and arrest the wrong person: Gucchi.

Gucchi attacked a second time, but now on the street.
Gucchi attacked a second time, but now on the street.

Let it be clear to all of us and the responsible persons in the police force, that, in this case, there is no discussion anymore about who said what and when: This is police terror against a civillian. No further discussion required.

I recall a similar incident in Los Angeles,  a few years ago, where police men committing a similar crime  were put to trial. And on Saba……..??????

Although these recordings say nothing about the specific cases of Mrs Chammaa and the person currently in jail, the statements of these accused report a very similar behavior of some police officers as we can see on the video’s.

The minimum the community may expect from the responsible Managers of the police force, is a clear statement outlining how they intend to protect the community from future police terror.

In addition, let this also be a wake-up call for the trainers of the police officers. The officers they train are persons paid by the community to protect the community from criminal actions. Common sense should be the priority, not rigid application of rules that may be applicable in down-town New York. We are a community of less than 2000 persons. Although, in principle, the same rules may apply as in down-town New York, police behavior as reported these days does not make sense. In my view this is pure harassment of the community.

I do hope that the Management of the police force will come into action very quickly before these trigger happy officers can cause a real catastrophe.

John A. Johnson.

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One comment

  1. René Caderius van Veen

    Again: I advise everybody who has complaints about the police to fill in this form but also to make a printscreen of the completed form before sending it and publish that on Facebook. But don’t forget to push the button “send” of course.