The Triangle Saba believe it is important to inform you as a result of an incident on September 24th, 2013 which has lead to the detention of a suspect who in first instance reportedly was involved with a collision on Saba.
The Triangle comprises the Island Governor, Mr. Johnson, the Chief Prosecutor, Mr. van Delft and the Chief of Police, Mrs. Buitink.
The Triangle is responsible for the integral safety on the concerned island. So also on Saba.
The Caribbean Netherlands Police Force (KPCN) is tasked with the maintenance of public order and safety and the criminal enforcement of the rule of law.
Once the KPCN acts in relation to the enforcement of criminal law this falls under the authority of the Public Prosecution Office BES. In the event KPCN acts in connection with the maintenance of public order and safety this falls under the authority of the concerned Island Governor.
In the Triangle, The Chief of Police BES can be represented by the Chief of Police of Saba, and the Chief Public Prosecutor can be represented by a Prosecutor.
The incident of Tuesday September 24th
As result of a call regarding a collision whereby driver left the scene without making known his identity, the police on Saba went to the scene. Note herewith that the Police Force on Saba does not have day and night uniformed patrol, this in relation to the scale of the police team related to the number of incidents.
Instead, police officers run picket. Picket means, in principal not present at the station, but at home available on call.
Similarly in the evening hours of September 24th.
Three police officers in civilian clothing have, as the result of the aforementioned call, started an investigation on location. One of the three officers had picket, the other two police officers did not, but they rode along with the concerned colleague. These two police officers were dressed in sport clothing because they just came from the gym. In order to respond quickly to the call they did not change their clothing.
In the media it was stated that the police came to the scene because the counterparty (the owner of the parked vehicle) is of Bonairean origin. There would be a relationship with the three seconded Bonaire police officers. The Triangle firmly distances itself from this statement. At the moment of the call the three police officers did not know who the owner of the vehicle was. The KPCN responds regardless to who the person is making the call. Whether it regards Sabans, Bonaireans or other population groups, that does not matter. Later it incidentally appeared that the parked vehicle was registered in the name of a Saban.
The Policy of KPCN is that police officers are allowed to wear civilian clothing during picket. This has to do with the urgency of calls and the time associated with getting there. They must however, for the recognition, wear a vest with ‘politie” on this and must carry with them a police ID (in the form of an ID-card). The KPCN knows no badges (such as in the United Stated of America).
In this case the three police officers were not wearing a vest, and were therefore not directly recognizable as police officers. Therefore they did not handle in accordance with police regulations. However, they did have a valid ID card with them.
As a result of the investigation on the scene the three police officers went to the address of the driver who was reportedly involved in the collision. Before entering a home without permission of the resident a special written authorization is required from the (assistant) Prosecutor. Before entering a yard no authorization is required. The police declare that the home was not accessed.
After the concerned driver opened the door the officers clearly holding ID cards issued by the department spoke with the driver.
Thereafter follows a situation which is qualified by the police as an attempt at manslaughter and/or threat. For this, the concerned, according to the written police report, was the suspect with respect to attempted manslaughter and/or threat. He was held and brought to the station.
There, in accordance with the law, he was brought before an assistant Prosecutor of the KPCN who evaluated the legality of the arrest. Afterwards the suspect was held for hearing and the following day, September 25th, in the interest of the investigation the detention was prolonged by the assistant Prosecutor for the legal term of two days.
The Public Prosecution Office extended the detention per September 27th because further investigation was necessary. Also on September 27th the suspect’s detention was evaluated by an independent judge, the examining judge. This judge found that the procedures were legitimate in accordance with article 89 of the Wetboek Strafverordening BES.
On September 30th (so after 6 days) the suspect was released on the order of the Public Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office BES because the interest of the investigation allowed this on that day. There were no further grounds to hold the suspect longer in detention.
The suspect is summons to appear in Court in First Instance on October 8th on Saba. Because the case still has to appear before the judge no further substantive reports will be made about this case.
Press release Triangle Saba, October4, 2013
Does anyone believes that it was a normal action to come in the night to someones house in civil clothes with three policemen (they do not have the rank of “officers” by the way) after a phonecall about a smal accident like this ?
Does anyone believe that a 60 year old man has really attacked three policemen ?
Does anyone thinks that it is normal that the Triangle publishes a statement like this just a few days before the matter will be handled in Court?
In the first place, this should never have been turned by the police into a criminal matter, That’s where the problem starts. The person scraped someone’s car and left his car in front of his house next to the scraped car. So, why should three people representing the police and wearing sports outfits without the required police vests (as Triangle Saba admits) respond to this type of call in the first place? If the police representatives do not have enough respect for their occupation by omitting the proper uniform (which was probably left in their car) while performing parts of their duty, why should the public accept their report of what happened that night? Who would not protect himself having to come out after dark facing three people you don’t know? Is this what the police call attempted homicide? Come on if anyone of us believes that, we should live in another world!!!
These are very serious charges which can ruin someone’s future and in view of the previous Kutchie incident and Trish incident, I wish the Governor or the Island Council would see the lack of professionalism in these police matters and step forward to have a thorough investigation of the situation with the BES police and straighten this all out. To be a well respected medical professor and to have one’s career ruined by this type of police action is totally uncalled for . . If this type of justice is what we all have to face on Saba in the future, I doubt many people will chose to stay if they have an option.
Thank you Triangle, to share this information with us. Considering the brutality demonstrated in the Kutchie incident and the stupidity in the TC incident, I presume that the simple officers probably are not to be blamed personally. It is the people that selected and “trained” them. It would have been better if they would have been educated.
However the account of the triangle puts the blame for this incident directly on the Prosecutor’s office. I really wonder how someone can have such a lack of common sense. Such people are dangerous.
So it seems that we have a complete breakdown of the justice system: The Chief of Police has people working for her that are only trained but not educated, The Prosecutor lacks any common sense and the Governor…???
Saba, we will survive if we stick together.
Eddie is 100% correct in his views.
Every time these press releases comes out they are more confusing. How at that late hour of the night was the professor to read what was on an ID in the dark? I say again this case could have waited until day break to be dealt with. Nobody was injured and the car was not a total lost. Again I say this case needs to be investigated by an independent body. What amazes me is to see how fast it is ready to go to Court.
Just turn that logo upside down and ask yourself how it looks. A frown is just a smile, turned upside down… My Friends.
A triangle is a one dimensional Pyramid, this seems a little like a very weak scheme.
Got the date wrong in the report which was published in a newspaper I hear?
In order to have a better understanding of the local situation in the BES islands, I am following the performance of the governmental organizations from a professional, journalist perspective. The objective is to have a better understanding of the local situations before the next elections. I have learned that the community is of the opinion that, after economy and health care, security is an important factor affecting the quality of life.
The community had great expectations for an improvement of the local security after 10-10-10. The behavior of the Antillean based police force was experienced as not always “neutral”. The arrival of police officers from Europe would improve the drugs related crime rate on Saba. This did not really materialize. The community knows who the culprits are, the police knows as well, but the Triangle did not encourage corrective actions. This lead to a high frustration level with those officers that were ready for action. There were indications that there was some sort of police protection of the drugs trade on Saba, but internal investigations within the force, did not come up with sustainable evidence. Today, this situation remains status quo. There are still suggestions within the police force that family connections around high level island officials may play a role as well. I understand that this will always be a difficult situation in such a small community.
Today, the community has the perception that crime on Saba is limited. People feel safe on Saba, although some very unpleasant events have occurred not so long ago. Consequently police attitude towards civilians should be friendly and cooperative. For instance, there is no reason why a failing tail light on a car or a drivers license that is at home would lead to a fine. It is known, who has a drivers license and who not. The immediate repair of a failing tail light can be checked at the police station the next day. This is how the police should operate in a gentle, nice community. In the end, the officials are paid by the community and therefore they should meet the needs of the community.
It seems that the current behavior of the police is not in line with “friendly” service. It has already been alluded in earlier comments on this site, that applying rules that may be necessary in unsafe areas of Amsterdam, should not be applied in a small community like Saba. Yet we have seen the recordings of the Kutchie incident and read about the unfriendly treatment of TC. Who would not get upset?
The incident of September 24
Thanks to the press release of the Triangle we do not have to guess about some of the details now.
Problem 1: The trigger of the events was a parking incident in front of the house of the accused. There was no hit-and-run case: the car was parked where the incident had taken place. In the Netherlands, the police assumes, that in such a case, the persons involved, will deal with this as normal people. The police will only come to take to the place of the accident in case of injured persons. This was not the case. The press release does not mention any reason why the police decided to deal with this case in a non-standard way. Why do three officers in the middle of the night decide to sort out a dent in a bumper?
Problem 2: Although the police has the right to enter a private yard, civilians do not have that right. The professor saw three civilians that had entered his private yard, in the late evening. Everybody has not only the right to defend his property and privacy, but also has the obligation to do so. Look at your insurance policy.
Then, suddenly, in the middle of the night, there are three unknown persons with guns at your front door: how can one protect himself and his family?
The officers argue that they did show their IDs. Dear Prosecutor, officers get a one day course to detect if the ID of a civilian is a valid one. CIVILIANS ARE NOT INFORMED ON HOW TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POLICE ID AND A CREDIT CARD FROM A SOUTH AMERICAN BANK, and certainly not in the dark under such a stressy situation. During their training, somebody should have spend some time with these officers to teach them how to approach civilians in complex situations. We have seen ourselves how it was done in the Kutchie films. Appalling. Maybe it was done in a similar way on this dramatic evening?
If the officers wanted to pursue their investigation for whatever reason, the professional solution in this dilemma would have been to de-escalate the situation, e.g., by stepping back and produce an acceptable form of identification. Pointing a gun at the professor is not professional.
Problem 3: the assistant Prosecutor should have sufficient professional competence to deal with the matter. Why did he/she did not of consider the views of a 60 year old man who, from his perspective, is threatened by three gangsters with guns in the middle of the night? Taking the professor in custody because he might flee from the island is, again, a reasoning that is insane. Once the identities had been established, there was also no indication that the professor would be an immediate threat to any of the officers nor anyone from the community. One conclusion: clear incompetence from the assistant Prosecutor.
Problem 4: The Chief Prosecutor supported the officers and the assistant Prosecutor. There are reasons to expect that the Chief Prosecutor has a minim level of competence. Apparently not: the professor was held in jail for 6 days.
Problem 5: From their press release, the Triangle seems to be of the opinion that all the above is normal.
Challenge for the Saban community: The Triangle has the legal power to act as they did. Depending on how one twists the events, their behavior may even be within the limits of the law. These have been set very wide to give the authorities the room to react efficiently to unforeseen events. However it has never been the intention of the law makers that the law is used to support police brutality against civilians.
Probably,in this situation, we may even find, that the Triangle and their personnel have operated within the limits of the law. However, in my view, certainly, they have not followed the intentions of the law. Looking objectively at the sequence of events, it seems that there is a serious competence issue with the three individuals involved.
It is very sad for the professor that he has become the victim of this authorized brutality. The problems need to be brought to the attention of the higher levels in The Hague. After having read their earlier press release on the incident, it cannot be expected that more common sense will come from Bonaire.
The obvious conclusion: It stinks at the top. The Triangle needs to be replaced as soon as possible so that the Saban community can enjoy a safe and agreeable life again with minimized drugs related crime. However, I do sympathize with those police officers that have a good understanding for the local culture. They may be capable to educate their trigger-happy and/or aggressive colleagues (See the Kutchie films) . Where they fail, those persons should leave the force.
Saba deserves a safe and pleasant community life with a Head of Police, Chief Prosecutor and Lt. Governor that sort out the safety issues of the community and no longer sanction police brutality. Saba needs change.
Van Vuure, journalist.
First of all I’m happy to read a comment from a professional journalist and I do hope that this comment of him will have some impact. Secondly I would like to repeat related comments that I sent to a third party and the third item is telling something about own experiences.
It is understandable that policemen from elsewhere are supporting the police from here partly because of adding new skills and expertise, partly because in such a small community it is difficult to have enough distance between the population and the policemen: they are likely to be relatives or direct or indirect friends with people who might be suspect in a case. But to import policemen from Bonaire, where the police appears to be incapable to solve the crimes on that island itself, is quite questionable. First of all Bonaire needs all policeforce that they have and secondly there is a chance that the selected policemen are (partly) the cause of the fact that the police is not capable to do their job well on Bonaire.
Then about my own experiences about a year ago. The head of the police at that time, Oosterdijk if I remember his name well, was informed by me about several things. First about the fact that there were several places where one could smell marihuana. He told me that drugs were under research. Secondly I told him that it was not understandable that the police was not more active in fighting use of alcohol in traffic, where drivers of cars were often be seen with one hand steering and with a bottle of beer in the other hand. He told me that there were no accidents because of the use of alcohol, so that this had no priority. When I told him that a young mother had died because of alcohol in traffic, he said that tis must have been before his time. Yes it was may be two month before he was in function and he would remain in function just for half a year. What an attitude of a policeman.
Later I told the prosecutor about the same worries. One of the things that I told her was about the places where one could smell marihuana in my opinion: near the Dancing Place trail and at a few hundred meters distance down the road from the house of Commissioner Bruce Zagers and I told her that everybody driving a car on the road could smell this and that for that reason I did not understand why policemen did not smell it. What happened? I was accused by the prosecutor of telling hear-say stories and later I heard from Commissioner Chris Johnson that she had told the government that I had been accusing Bruce Zagers. I should have sued her for this actually.
What I don’t get is why the case don’t be thrown out and a public apology be published to the professor and his wife. He was incarcerated for SIX DAYS and for what a simple touch of a car?! The Triangle stated in their press release that the officers did NOT have their police vest on so therefore it’s pretty obvious that that wasn’t a valid arrest, plain and simple.
I enjoyed Van Vuure’s analysis. Today I found an article on Reuters:
Putin demands Dutch apology after diplomat detained by police
EXACTLY! It’s a bloody joke. Very Sad for T.C. and his wife. Seems that elements within the force are more concerned with intimidating innocent folks (soft targets) to provoke a response and have no interest in other elements that may be more “Challenging”. We have had and still do have good police officers and officials here but, it seems they’re out numbered or misdirected from afar. I can only imagine their frustration with recent events.
The police-women that threatened the 60 year old professor with her revolver seems to be sent off-island. Hopefully the police – plus the “Triangle” with the Lt. Governor etc. – are deliberating about how to make apologies.