Light reprimand for racism sparks unrest at poilce
Police officers across the Netherlands responded with dissatisfaction to five Rotterdam cops only receiving written reprimands after making racist statements in a WhatsApp group. Many cops found this mild punishment incomprehensible, NRC reports.
Hundreds of police officers responded to the reprimands on social media and on the police's intranet, according to NRC. They received support from Amsterdam police chief Frank Paauw. "The statements already rightly caused outrage and the punishment now also evokes emotion," he wrote in an email to Amsterdam officers on Wednesday. According to Paauw, quite a few officers experience the lack of emphatic action against discrimination as "painful".
Another top police official spoke of "nationwide unrest" among cops about this matter, according to the newspaper. A team chief of the Oost-Nederland police said that cops are annoyed by what they see as double standards. The written reprimands were called "shameful and disgusting". One cop said that they've been hearing racist remarks within the police for 26 years. "I still hope that we can change as an organization."
Rotterdam police chief Fred Westerbeke, who decided on the punishment for the police officers who made the racist statements, told NRC that he is aware of the dissatisfaction. "There is a wide range of reactions to the decision, in that respect the police are no different from society," he said tot he newspaper.
When he announced the written reprimands - the lightest possible form of punishment the police can impose on employees - last month, Westerbeke said that he opted for this punishment because the texts came from two years ago, the officers involved were "sincerely sorry", and he found no evidence of them discriminating against people during the course of their duties.