Report: Army, Amsterdam police infiltrated Bos en Lommer district

The Amsterdam police deployed the military unit that helped the army in Afghanistan to win the hearts of the local population, in the neighbourhood Bos en Lommer. The soldiers along with police officers keep an eye on "target groups" and their behaviour.

The project was dubbed PsyCops, after the military term PsyOps - Psychological Operations. Mayor Eberhard van der Laan filed an "assistance request for military support in the general interest" for this project, which was funded by the Ministry of Security and Justice and ran until March 2014, Trouw reports. The final report on the project was never published.

In September 2012 soldiers from the Civil and Military Interaction Commando walked the streets of the neighbourhood in civilian clothing. Late in 2013 they went back to the neighbourhood for three weeks, this time with police officers. The soldiers instructed the officers in methods developed for peacekeeping missions in war zones. It started with classifying the population into groups. Two of the groups that the soldiers formulated was "mosque visiting men between the ages of 25 and 40" and "immigrant parents with young children". Then the soldiers gathered information on the groups - such as where they are the most vulnerable, how easy they are to influence and through which channels they could best be reached.

The project has caused some controversy.  Anthropologist Paul Mutsaers told the Parool that it is an extreme form of racial profiling - classifying people based on their origin. It is an "indoctrination and manipulation" aimed at "non-Western immigrants", he said to the newspaper.

Superintendent Carolien Dijkstra, who led the project, disagrees. "PsyCops helps us to have better contact with various groups in society." she said to the newspaper. "I do not see why it would be discrimination. The police is not just there to catch criminals, but also for prevention. This can only be done along with citizens." The Amsterdam police is very enthusiastic about the project and wants to continue with it.

Tags: