Lawyer and journalists attend stun gun training

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The Netherlands – ‘It was interesting, especially to see how quickly an officer has to decide whether to act in a violent situation’, says criminal lawyer Gerald Roethof. Invited by the police, a team from talk show Op1 and mr. Roethof spoke with the police last Thursday about the use of the electroshock weapon.

The reason for the invitation to the conversation and a demonstration of the electroshock weapon was the broadcast of Op1 on Friday 13 January. Gerald Roethof and Member of Parliament Sylvana Simons (BIJ1) were guests on the talk show to talk about a fatal arrest in America in which a stun gun was used. The two were extremely critical of the use of the weapon, including by the Dutch police. The safety of using the drug has been questioned. It was also pointed out to possible health risks for suspects on whom the electroshock weapon is used. The risk of death of suspects after using the electroshock weapon was not excluded in the Netherlands, the lawyer believed.
The police were not invited to join the current affairs programme.

The comments sparked outrage from police. “It is important to provide context, so that the correct facts and circumstances are brought to the fore during a subsequent broadcast, should the choice be made again not to ask the police at the discussion table,” said head of Operations in Amsterdam Janis Tamsma, who spoke on Thursday. entered into conversation with, among others, portfolio holder for violent means Frank Paauw. Janis Tamsma is responsible within the police for the introduction of the electroshock weapon among the 17,000 so-called ‘first responders’ in the base teams.
Counsel Roethof and Op1 presenters Natasja Gibbs and Nadia Moussaid accepted the invitation; not politician Simons.


‘Talking is the basis of all good. So if I get an invitation and see the usefulness and necessity of it, I accept it’, says Roethof after attending an IBT training on the Taser X2. ‘I found the response of the police to the TV broadcast very exaggerated. I still stand behind every word I said. It’s nice to hear the other side of the story; how people from the field experience it in practice.’
Roethof’s point remains that the electroshock weapon can easily be deployed too quickly. ‘The weapon can be used on a fleeing suspect of a relatively minor offense – according to official instructions, of course – but that is something that does not belong in the law. It’s good to discuss this, because that’s exactly how you can correct a mistake in the law.’

‘It’s different on the street’

Janis Tamsma shares the view that exchanging perspectives is good. β€œIt is important that we were able to put the facts in the spotlight. Because if you watched the Op1 broadcast, we found certain things incorrect. We were able to provide some context. Telling and showing that the practice is unruly and complex. By letting them watch a training, we wanted to convey that awareness. Experience how fast someone can come at you with a knife. In theory you think you have plenty of time to draw a gun, but on the street it’s really different. By letting people experience that, they may get a different experience and start thinking about it.’
She looks back on the conversation with a positive feeling. ‘It may be that you don’t agree on all points. Agree to disagree, I say. That’s no problem. It is important that we were able to highlight facts.’

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