Police, military face special forces shortage

Roosendaal standoff
A heavy police response in place after a gunman opened fire in a Roosendaal cafe. May 3, 2015. (photo: WWagenmakers / Twitter). (A heavy police response in place after a gunman opened fire in a Roosendaal cafe. May 3, 2015. (photo: WWagenmakers / Twitter))

The Special Intervention Service, which is used to deal with terrorists threats, is struggling with a sever staff shortage. The service currently has dozens of open vacancies, especially for members of SWAT teams, military police, snipers and marines, AD reports.

Since the increased threat of terrorism in the Netherlands, an increasing number of specially trained and heavily armed police officers and soldiers need to be on standby 24 hours a day. "This puts an enormous amount of strain on my people", said Remmert Heuff, head of the Special Intervention Service (DSI). "We urgently need people who can keep a cool head at high threat." The National Police would not comment to AD about which of the DSI specialized units need staff the most. "That is classified, we don't want to make terrorists wiser than necessary", a spokesperson told the newspaper.

Police Scientist Jaap Timmer is attributes the staff shortage to an image problem within the police. "Officers feel reluctant to work with a SWAT team and continuously having to be ready at ungodly hours." he said to the AD.

Early this year the Cabinet made 10 million euros available to expand the DSI's rapid response teams. This will be increased to 15 million euros a year from 2015. But Timmer wonders whether this extra money will be enough to fill up the vacancies. "These highly trained officers are also in demand in the private sector, such as with security companies. There they can earn more than with the government. It is important that the DSI gets a more attractive image. For example you could give managers in the police a bonus if they nominate outstanding local officers for the DSI."

The DSI was established in 2006 after a chaotic arrest of members of the Hofstad group in The Hague in 2004. Members of the SWAT team were seriously injured by a hand grenade when they first tried to detain the suspects. Special army units had to be called in to arrest them. The police and the army have been working closely together since the DSI was founded.

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