We woke up in the city of The Hague or “Den Haag”, which is how the Netherlands citizens pronounce and spell it.
Today our Gateway Scholars ate breakfast at the Hotel Petit, and started our first day working and observing community policing with The Hague Police. At 8:00 am, we were picked up by Gerrit Pronk, our Dutch National Police host, who took us to the National Police Department.
Joseph Moses, the American Embassy’s DEA Specialist, gave us a presentation based on his responsibilities in The Hague. He told us there are 17 field divisions in the U.S. and there are 12 offices in Europe. The biggest question I had is, why does the U.S. have DEA agents in the Netherlands?
He explained that there is more drug activity in the Netherlands than in many US states. According to Joseph there are more drug dealers in Europe than in the United States. He conducted 5,000 searches last year in 2012. In the Netherlands they have different surveillance systems than in the U.S. The DEA in Europe can tap a phone in 5 minutes vs in the U.S., we have to obtain a search warrant which could take up to 5 months to be approved. Here in Europe, the prosecutor has the power to conduct the investigation. If the prosecutor decides to stop the investigation, they have to stop. Joseph’s explained that there are two different types of drugs, soft drugs or hard drugs. The soft drugs are regular marijuana and hashish. Hard drugs are cocaine, heroine, speed, etc. In the Netherlands, they tolerate people buying pot from approved coffeeshops (you have to be a Dutch citizen and be a member of the coffeeshop) but it is illegal to grow it. we questioned where the coffee shops get their merchandise, and we learned that that is where the problems come in. Organized crime has come in to replace the local growers.
We had another presentation from a US Embassy official. His name was Ronnie Capiton, the head of Diplomatic Security in the Netherlands. I hadn’t heard of this American government organization until today. The mission statement of the Diplomatic Department is ”To provide a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy”. It was created in 1985.
His responsibilities are the protection of people, information, and property. Overseas, the Bureau protects the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and foreign dignitaries below the head-of-state level who visit the United States. Diplomatic Security develops and implements security programs to protect the more than 100 domestic State Department facilities as well as the residence of the diplomats. Also, they’re involved in collecting tips on terrorist activity and they’ll reward the subject with 25 million dollars if it leads to an arrest and conviction.
Rob Korpelsshoek and Wim-Jan van Steen gave us a presentation on the history of the Netherlands Police. It was established by the French in 1813. They started their detective units in 1858. There are 25 regional police departments. According to Rob, there are 17 million residents in the Netherlands and 49,500 police officers that are employed to protect the population. I asked if their law enforcement structure was like ours in the States, where we have our sheriffs, state troopers , and local police. He said they only have one national police department.
After that presentation, we went to the office of the Dutch National Police Department, where Marijke Burmann lectured us on Media and Policing. His theory is that communication through social media will be the next best way to capture criminals. Neighborhood officers establish their own twitter accounts. They send out a tweet if a criminal is on the loose, and they get real time responses.
Another use of social media Is an app for smart phones called “HELP”. When you press it, it pinpoints your location and sends a help message to the police. Another app allows you to videorecord criminal activity and send it directly to the police.
For our last stop of the day, Mr. Pronk took us to The University of The Hague where the students gave us a presentation of the USS Cole bombing In the Port of Aden. 17 American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured.The terrorist organization al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
We finished our day at a restaurant down the street. We were exhausted!
Criminal Justice Student
Word of the day- Smakelijk – means Bon Appetit!