Two Zeeland cops fired for sexual misconduct, improper use of firearms
The Zeeland-West Brabant police fired two cops for sexual misconduct, improper use of firearms, and racism and discrimination in WhatsApp groups. Two other cops were put on probation and transferred to other teams. And another two resigned themselves. All six officers involved worked at the Walcheren unit, where the police appointed new managers early last year to build a safe and inclusive work environment, the police said on Thursday.
The police started investigating the six men in February 2022 after receiving multiple reports of transgressive behavior. The reports included accusations of misogyny, unwanted sexual behavior, using service weapons in the police station without necessity, and discriminatory and racist texts in a WhatsApp group.
“Given the seriousness of the facts,” the police questioned dozens of colleagues and took their time to conduct the investigation and penalty decisions with due care, police said.
The investigation revealed that the “risky handling of firearms’ was “characteristic of a certain group of employees.” Investigators also found “prolonged undesirable behavior and sexual and other transgressive behavior, which went far beyond borders and resulted in an unsafe working situation.” This included sexist remarks and harassment. The cops involved also exchanged racist and discriminatory messages in a WhatsApp group.
“All these behaviors took place over a longer period of time,” the police said. “Employees felt unsafe and uncomfortable, as a result of which the working climate within the team was unprofessional and unsafe.”
“All employees involved have been guilty of culpable behavior and serious neglect of duty,” the police said. But they also stressed that the offenses were committed as individuals and not as a group, and not all six cops were guilty of all the offenses, which is why the disciplinary measures also differ.
Two of the cops resigned themselves, one in the first half of 2022 and the other in the first quarter of this year. The police informed the other four of their disciplinary measures on Wednesday. Two have been dismissed. The other two were placed on probation for 1 and 2 years, respectively, and were transferred to two different teams outside Zeeland. “The transfers are necessary to be able to rebuild a safe working environment,” the police said.