SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - On Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson along with her support staff met with the Mayor of Leiden Henri Lenferink, the District Chief of Police Marieke Bosch, and the Public Prosecutor Fleur Simonis. The meeting was arranged for Minister Richardson to gain an understanding of how the "triangle" meeting also known as the "driehoeksoverleg", functions in the Netherlands.
In Leiden, the ‘triangle meeting’ is held once a month to discuss issues that are impacting the municipality. In Sint Maarten, the meetings were agreed to be held quarterly. One of the positive aspects of Minister Richardson’s work visit to the Netherlands is gaining more insight in the way certain structures are intended to function and how beneficial these meetings can be once utilized in the correct structure and manner.
During the meeting mayor Lenferink stated to which Minister Richardson agreed that: "Safety and security is all about collaboration with all organizations involved that contribute to a positive result".
Mayor Lenferink explained that the triangle operates from a safety plan which is developed and agreed upon by majors of cities who also hold meetings with stakeholders in the community. This sort of systematic approach differs from that of Sint Maarten as those discussions are mostly based on the topics that have been placed on the agenda for that meeting and are then discussed amongst the Minister of Justice, the Prosecutor and the Chief of Police.
Though it is recognized that our structures differ due to geographical size, Minister Richardson believes that adapting an approach with a safety plan as the point of departure and applying it in Sint Maarten can contribute positively to the current situation.
Thereafter Minister Richardson met with the Mayor of Leidschendam-Voorburg, Mr. Jules Bijles, where they discussed public safety and security matters.
Mayor Bijles explained the structures and procedures of his organization and gave a presentation that specifically delved into the assistance of the municipality community officers. The Municipality Community Officers can be seen equivalent to Sint Maarten’s Community Police Officers (CPO). These are ‘BAVPOL’ers’ and take on minor offences and tasks such as supervising public areas, offering fines and so on.
Recognizing the plus of the CPOs, Minister Richardson sees a great opportunity to increase the number of this division with the aim to outfit our schools and school districts for heightened law enforcement presence and quicker action. “We recognize strategies used by those who wish to continue with negative behavior such as assaulting other students and more. As such, efforts will be made to heighten and tighten every area possible,” stated Minister Richardson
Upon Minister Richardson’s return, this will be one of the prioritized agenda points that will be discussed with the Chief of Police, Public Prosecutor, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, schools boards and other stakeholders as a plan of action to protect our students, faculty, staff and communities.
Finally, Minister Richardson’s evening ended with a dinner hosted by members of the Progress Committee namely Mr. Nico Schoof and Mr. Michel Marijnen. The latter also invited the Mayor drs. Elizabeth Spies of Alphen aan de Rijn to the dinner, giving Minister Richardson an opportunity to dialogue with a third Mayor with over seven years in service.
In conclusion, Minister Richardson experienced a full day of interaction with persons who have a vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to managing safety and security in their communities, working with the relevant authorities tasked to do so and who passionately hold interest to make a positive difference in the communities as Ministers Richardson also aims to do.