Defense, police need to improve cooperation in terrorism drills, Amsterdam mayor says

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Members of a Dutch police SWAT team (Stock Photo: Politie). (Members of a Dutch police SWAT team (Stock Photo: Politie))

The municipality of Amsterdam learned important lessons from a large in November. One lesson is that the cooperation between the police and Defense must be improved, interim Amsterdam mayor Jozias van Aartsen said in a letter to the city council on Tuesday, AT5 reports.

On November 8th and 9th a large-scale terrorism drill was held in Amsterdam. A scenario was simulated in which a group of armed men crashed into pedestrians with a truck. A large number of local and national emergency services participated in the drill, including the communal control room, units of special intervention service DSI, security units of Defense, crisis teams of the municipality and the police. 

Although intense work was done on cooperation between the police and Defense in case of a terrorist attack, the drill showed that the services have trouble working well together, according to the mayor. The drill also revealed that working in an urban environment is a lot different than the areas in which Defense normally operates. 

Another challenge was properly dividing aid and relevant information that arrived at the control room, and it took relatively long for the emergency services to escalate the situation to GRIP 1 - the coordinated regional incident prevention procedure. Getting aid to victims also took a relatively long time, because it was unclear to the control room and the police whether the situation was safe.

The DSI quickly eliminated the terrorists in the drill, but the coordination and cooperation between the DSI and other emergency services had problems. According to the mayor, this was mainly because the services had certain expectations of each other. The use of certain technical terms also led to confusion. 

The Amsterdam triangle of mayor, police and Public Prosecutor, along with the local safety office, will work on improvements in some problem areas. Other issues will have to be taken up on a national level. "I think it is very important that the lessons from this exercise are further elaborated and translated into concrete actions", Van Aartsen said. 

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