Dutch police shot 27 people last year, 3 fatally

Dutch police officer with service firearm
Dutch police officer with service firearm. (Photo: Politie)

Last year the Rijksrecherche launched investigations into 27 incidents in which police officers shot at a suspect during their work. In these incidents three people were killed and 26 were injured, according to figures the Public Prosecutor released.

The fatal shootings happened in Delft in October, in Schiedam in June, and in Amsterdam in January

The number of police shootings in the Netherlands in which someone was killed or hurt has remained relatively stable for years. In 2017 there were 23 such incidents, compared to 34 in 2016, 30 in 2015 and 33 in 2014.

The Rijksrecherche, a department of the Public Prosecutor that handles internal investigations at government services like the police, investigates all cases of firearm use by police officers with death or injury as a result. Based on these investigations, the Public Prosecutor determines whether a police officer's use of his or her firearm was justified. 

"In this way, we as police can account for the violence we applied", said Frank Paauw, police chief in Rotterdam and in charge of the violence portfolio. "That is important for the person who was shot, in the worst case scenario for the relatives, for the police man or woman involved, and for the trust of society. We want to be transparent and learn from incidents."

Paauw stressed that police officers have the right to use violence if the situation demands it - "Not as cowboys, but as professionals." - and don't do so flippantly. "Violence is part of our craftsmanship. Every day officers come into dangerous situations. Where others take a step back, police officers step up. If necessary, with danger to their own lives. We do not just shoot suspects, but only if there is no other option. We are trained for this and we are accountable for that."