Rotterdam – The Rotterdam police has completed the disciplinary investigation into the statements and involvement of six police employees in a private WhatsApp group. An employee is dismissed and no longer works for the police. Depending on their statements and involvement in the WhatsApp group, the other five employees will be given penalties ranging from conditional dismissal with a probationary period of two years and a transfer to a written warning. An awareness program about diversity and inclusion is initiated with all employees.
The disciplinary investigation was the follow-up to an exploratory investigation that started in mid-September 2023 after the existence of a WhatsApp group containing nine police officers from the Rotterdam unit was reported. After the preliminary investigation, the Rotterdam police decided to start a disciplinary investigation against six employees due to misogynistic, discriminatory and other inappropriate comments in the chat. No disciplinary investigation was initiated against three employees. They appeared not to have had an active role in the chat, but did receive a written warning because they had not confronted their colleagues about the behavior they had exhibited. The Public Prosecution Service had already decided at an earlier stage that no criminal investigation would take place into this WhatsApp group.
The role and involvement of the six employees in the WhatsApp group has been extensively investigated in recent weeks by the Safety, Integrity and Complaints department. The chat conversations have been viewed and the employees in question have been interviewed. When determining the severity of the punishment, consideration was given to, among other things, whether the employee said or shared something in the WhatsApp group and what the content of those messages was. Furthermore, it was examined to what extent the employee involved has tried to stop the group’s behavior, whether anyone has managerial duties and whether there has been recidivism.
Following the investigation, one employee was dismissed based on the above considerations. Four employees have received punishment ranging from a reprimand to surrendering leave hours to conditional dismissal. In addition, colleagues have been transferred to other teams. One employee did not make any cross-border statements himself. This person (just like the other three who were previously in the app group, but who were not subject to disciplinary investigation), has received a written warning. This is because they have not taken action to stop the behavior of their colleagues. An awareness program on diversity and inclusion is being initiated for all colleagues. None of the police officers held a managerial position.
Treat everyone respectfully
Police chief Fred Westerbeke: “I am very disappointed in the behavior of the police officers. The misogynistic and discriminatory messages do not fit in a professional organization. I expect every employee in my unit to treat colleagues and citizens with respect and to call each other to account if this does not happen. In addition, I expect them not to stir up contradictions and to contribute to working in a safe team and to the image of our organization. These six employees have not shown this with their behavior in the WhatsApp group.
With their behavior they damage confidence in the police. The subject of discrimination is frequently discussed within our organization. It is not possible for you to exhibit this behavior as a police employee. This applies both during working hours and in your own time. The betrayal of trust affects all our colleagues who make a difference in our unit every day.”
Information source: Politie.nl