Police brass hits wall in parliament on Dutch language requirement

The Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, rejected National Police Chief Gerard Bouman's proposal to be more flexible when it comes to new police officers that are of ethnic minorities and decided that the language test for prospective officers will remain a requirement, De Telegraaf reports.

Bouman wants a quarter of new police officers to be ethnic minorities. According to the newspaper, Bouman therefore announced that he wants to remove the language test fro new officers to help this diversity policy. Bouman thinks that this would remove a threshold and that these new officers can then brush up on their language skills during training.

The VVD, PvdA, CDA, PVV, CU, SGP and VNL thinks that this is a terrible idea and want to address the matter in the next debate. CDA parliamentarian Peter Oskam thinks that it would be bad for the authority and the image of the police force if officers can not speak Dutch. Several politicians also point out that officers in training are sent out on the street in uniform and can therefore not be allowed to speak Dutch poorly.

Bouman is surprised by the commotion surrounding the language test. "I note that my position has been displayed rather selectively and suggestively in a number of media. I never made a plea for the abolition of the language test. I think that we can use this means of selection in a different and more effective way," the police chief says on the police website. "Whoever thinks that I find language proficiency unimportant, don't know me very well. In our contacts with citizens verbal and written language proficiency is essential and no one needs to explain to me the importance of a carefully crafted official report. That seems more than evident."