Amsterdam to equip enforcers with bodycams

Enforcement officer in Amsterdam, 7 May 2017
Enforcement officer in Amsterdam, 7 May 2017Photo: Lukassek/DepositPhotos

Enforcement officers in Amsterdam will soon be equipped with bodycams, mayor Femke Halsema agreed with the unions. The enforcement officers working in the city center will also receive extra support from the police, effective immediately, the municipality announced in a press release.

Late last year enforcers' union NBB called for all enforcers to be equipped with batons, pepper spray and bodycams. The Amsterdam mayor decided to partially agree to this request. In the summer the first 100 enforcement officers in the city will be equipped with bodycams. After that, the number of enforcers carrying bodycams will be steadily increased, with interim evaluations by the city council.

According to the municipality, experience in other municipalities show that a bodycam can have a positive effect on citizens' behavior. People on the street are more aware of their behavior if they know they're being filmed. An bodycam experiment in Breda last year showed that bodycam wearing enforcers can have a de-escalating effect a conflict situation, and that bodycams increase the feeling of safety for enforcement officers. 

The city decided against arming the enforcement officers. "Enforcers are there for the quality of life in the city, the police are there for safety. According to the mayor, enforcers should not stand on the front line and must not end up there." To prevent this the municipality, police and Public Prosecutor decided to immediately temporarily increase the number of police officers working in the city center. "These police officers have pepper spray and a baton. They monitor the street and address people on norm-deviant behavior. They are visibly present and can directly support enforcers in the center", the municipality said. There are also always firearm carrying police officers present in the city who can be backup for enforcers who need it.

The mayor and aldermen are also currently working on an Enforcement Master Plan, which focuses on a new distribution of enforcers' work in the public space. "The plan must lead to the more efficient use of enforcers: at the right time, in the right place."

Earlier this week the audit office for the Amsterdam Metropolis criticized the municipality for not addressing nuisance in its neighborhoods. According to the office, the city's enforcers are not trained for new social nuisance situations they have to face, and the city lacks manpower, structure and a clear division of tasks in its approach to these issues.