Concerns about increased police violence, ‘agent’s best weapon is the mouth’ 14:59 in Binnenland The police used force more than 33,000 times last year. Interest group Control Alt Delete is concerned.

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A protester against French President Macron is taken away by the police
NOS News
  • Rick van den Berg

    editor online

Control Alt Delete is concerned about the increase in the use of force by the police. An overview of the police themselves from earlier today shows that officers used violence 33,584 times during work last year. That is 12 percent more than a year earlier and the fourth year in a row that the figures have risen.

Control Alt Delete is an independent organization committed to fair law enforcement, against ethnic profiling and disproportionate violence. Spokesperson Dionne Abdoelhafiezkhan points out that, conversely, civilian violence against police officers is not increasing at the same rate. Insults and threats (with words) were more common, but the number of cases of physical violence fell sharply, by 12 percent.

The interest group calls it strange that the police are using more violence, while that is actually declining. “That raises the question of whether the state is careful enough with the monopoly on violence,” says Abdoelhafiezkhan.

Polarization and confused people

The police did not specifically investigate the cause of the increase, but did mention a number of factors. This refers to the polarization in society and the increased number of protests. “Citizens and society have become increasingly opposed to each other.” A second possible cause is the large number of incidents involving confused people.

Police sociologist Jaap Timmer, who is affiliated with the VU University in Amsterdam, is critical of the police’s reporting. He says it is difficult to draw conclusions from the police registration. “These are flat figures, with no analysis. The police now only tell their own story. You want to look further.”

According to Timmer, the figures do not answer important questions. “What was the reason for the violence, what was the purpose of the police action, what were the considerations for the intervention?” According to him, independent scientific research should be done on this.

Control Alt Delete also points to this. “The police do not release the registrations of the violence. That makes it a black box: a lot is unknown.” As a result, it is impossible to say whether police officers are now more inclined to use violence than in the past. “Transparency is needed for that and there is none now,” said Abdoelhafiezkhan.

More weapons

“The police say they are confronted with increasingly violent situations, but it is not clear whether that is really the case,” says researcher Timmer. “That is also not being investigated.” He previously conducted his own research in which he compared and analyzed developments over a longer period, but that came to an end in 2020. Since then, he says, there has been a lack of insight into the meaning of the figures.

He considers it positive that the police has paid more attention to the use of violence and its registration in recent years. There is now a uniform system, which means that the figures of recent years are in any case easily comparable.

Earlier research shows that the nature of the violence used by police officers changes over the years. “In the past, agents used physical violence without weapons more often and now weapons are used more often,” says Timmer.

Mandatory training

He says it is worrying that police officers are trained less and less well in dealing with threatening situations. “The number of hours available for training has decreased and so has the quality.” According to Timmer, this means that police officers know less well how to act in a difficult situation and that they more often resort to a weapon. Not only their firearm, but also the baton, pepper spray or stun gun.

Aad Egberts is a teacher at the Police Academy and he would also like to see more attention paid to de-escalating action in the training of police officers. He teaches agents how to use their communications to avoid using one of their weapons. His 4.5 day course, for first responders who arrive first in an emergency situation, is optional and he would welcome it if it were made mandatory.

He emphasizes the importance of good communication. “A cop’s best weapon is his mouth.” According to Egberts, it is important that a police officer shows that he or she is willing to listen in a crisis situation. “Communication. Make sure you don’t come across as threatening. Then violence can be prevented in many cases.”

  • Police used more violence again last year, also more often wrongly
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