Extra security after lawyer's murder at the expense of A'dam police capacity: mayor, police

Flowers at Derk Wiersum's office
Flowers outside the office of Derk Wiersum, killed in a shooting. Sept. 26, 2019Photo: NL Times

After the murder of defense attorney Derk Wiersum in front of his Amsterdam home last week, the city is offering extra security to a large number of people. Many also connected to the case around alleged drug gang leader Ridouan Taghi. This extra security is necessary, but comes at the expense of Amsterdam's police capacity, mayor Femke Halsema and Jan Pronker of the Amsterdam police said in a city council debate on Thursday.

"We are conducting investigation with many people. Security of persons is at the expense of officers in the neighborhoods", said Pronker, deputy police chief in Amsterdam, according to Het Parool's blog on he debate. "Visibility on the street is also declining, there are also fewer police officers at events. There is no longer much stretch left."

Halsema said that the city is offering protection to everyone who needs it, though this is still not a guarantee that they will be safe. This extra protection can have consequence for the municipality's capacity, she said. 

She is also worried about the plan for a national anti-drug unit proposed by Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security. The Minister wants around 450 people in this unit, for which there is no money yet. While Amsterdam supports the Minister's wish to tackle drug crime, and thereby also organized crime, in a more targeted way, Halsema fears that this team will come at the expense of the Amsterdam police's already stretched capacity. 

According to Halsema, there are suggestions in The Hague that Amsterdam is lax with enforcement. "Let me be clear that we do not accept a laissez-faire here. Then I also tell parliamentarians: give us the people, the means. Don't leave us out in the cold", she said. "You cannot say that Amsterdam has an enforcement problem, while The Hague is in charge of the distribution of resources." 

She called on the city council: "Let us not play against each other with the idea that we have a laissez-faire attitude here in Amsterdam. I appeal to you: lobby with me in The Hague." she said. "We are a shrinking police force. Until 2023 we are under what we need." Laissez-faire is a French term referring to a policy of leaving things to take their own course, without interfering. 

The mayor again called Wiersum's murder an "attack on the rule of law". The defense attorney was gunned down while with his wife in front of their home in the Buitenveldert neighborhood in Amsterdam on September 18th. The police are still looking for his murderer.

The authorities currently believe that he was assassinated because he was representing key witness Nabil B., a crime suspect turned police informant. B. was giving testimony since last year against the drug-centered criminal organization allegedly run by Ridouan Taghi. B. linked Taghi to nine separate murders, and a string of attempted murders and never executed murder plans. 

"In the background we are trying to provide as much help as possible to the family, the professional group and local residents", Halsema said.