Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We started the day with going to the International Criminal Court located here in the Hague. The staff at the International Criminal Court gave us a quick tour of the facility, then they gave us a presentation of the history of the court, it’s jurisdiction and mandate that the court has. We then were given a presentation on current cases and developments at the court. After learning all of this we were able to sit in on a current court hearing in a observation room where we were all given head phones so that we could hear a translation into English. The trial was for Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, from  the Congo, charged with crimes against humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then left and had to grab a quick bit to eat where we stopped at what Elaine calls a traveler’s no-fly-zone, “McDonalds.” We finished our quick bite to eat and then we went to Veiligheidshuis Den Haag, where we meet a group of people who work with people, mostly youth.  They work to rehabilitate them back into a citizen that contributes to the community, and keeps them from falling into a life style of criminal activities. There was a sizable staff that fulfilled a number of different responsibilities, all working together to try and help as many people as they can support.

This ended our planned activities for the day so we decided to go out to dinner. We stumbled into a place that made an incredible chicken dish and the price was very fair. I wish we would have found this place the first day we arrived to the Hague.

A Russel Timms Production

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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!

-Jesus Sandoval

Criminal Justice Student

Word of the day- Smakelijk – means  Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Today was an exploration day in The Hague. After breakfast, we took the tram to Scheveningen Beach. It’s on the North Sea. It has a huge boardwalk with shops, restaurants and a double decker pier. It was amazing to see the sea and the pier. After walking around for a while, we ate lunch, which was perfect timing since it started to rain. Then, we headed back to our hotel. After we had a little break, Elaine and Russel headed out on rented bikes and the rest of us decided to walk around town. On our way back, we ran into Russel and Elaine on their bikes and had a little meeting about what we will be doing for the rest of the week. We will be back to our busy schedule of learning with the police.
The evening was spent on homework and downtime. Stay tuned for more!

-Sara Harris

Word of the day- Scheveningen- pretty much impossible to pronounce

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, although there was no evidence of it here. Today was a travel day. We left Brussels and took a train to Antwerp. We had to change trains to get to The Hague. We didn’t mind because it gave us a chance to see the famous Antwerp train station. From  Antwerp, we were able to go straight to The Hague. We arrived at the Petit Hotel and were pleasantly surprised at how spacious and nice our rooms were. Some of us are on the 4th floor with stairs that go practically straight up. I feel like a mountain goat climbing up to the top. (It’s a good way to burn off some those Belgian waffles and chocolates). After getting settled, we took a three hour walk around town. Everything related to food was closed on Sunday. We ended up eating at a Subway where we could order 15 cm or 30 cm sandwiches. We stopped in at Gevangenpoort Museum, which was the old town jail back in the 1600′s. We walked home by way of the Carnegie Foundation, which is not far from our hotel. We’re going to investigate going to a lecture there tomorrow night.

I am on a mission to rent bikes. The hotel only has two in working order, but they are trying to find more. That’s how most people get around, and it’s a lot safer here than in Amsterdam. Hopefully, we’ll be riding around town tomorrow.

A few of us went out for pizza before calling it a night. We had just gotten the hang of using our please and thank yous in French and now we’re back to Dutch.

Word of the day- ” alstublieft” (a.u.b.) means “please” in Dutch

-Elaine Asma

Instructor

Saturday, March 16, 2013

We have completed our first week of study in Belgium. The students have been exposed to an outstanding introduction to the Belgian Police and their style of policing. Students have been given tours of the police academy in Limburg and exposed to the use of force training used by their officers. their country does not have much in the way of violent crime and discussions with their superior officers revealed a different culture in the way of firearm possession by civilians and gun control in general. Even their own officers are not allowed to take their own duty issued weapons home with them after their tour of duty. One interesting fact was the country does not allow the use of tasers by their officers. Most citizens seem very satisfied with the level of police service they receive and the level of violent crime in their country, which is much lower than that in the United States.

Students have been exposed to Community Policing and the way the services provided to the citizens is delivered and managed. Students were allowed to observe a police traffic check-point in Maasland and participate in a ride-along with officers from a local district. Officers are exposed to numerous citizen contacts via their community policing strategy and have an excellent rare with the citizens they serve.

We have had numerous presentations and exposure to the way protests and disturbance resolution is handled in Belgium. It appears protests and demonstrations are an every day fact of life in this country and officers are trained in managing people with compassion and rarely having to use any actual force. the police are equipped with water cannons and pepper spray. Officers are judged on how well they manage the citizens in a protest and by the absence of arrests and use of any force.

The upcoming week features working with the Hague Police and tours of their police academy and observing a hearing at the International Court where students will learn about crimes and punishment at an international level.

-Steve Spingola

Criminal Justice Instructor

Friday, March 15, 2013

The morning started with a presentation at the Brussels Police Station. The building covered an entire city block. The subject of the presentation was COPPRA – Community Policing and Prevention of Radicalization.
The goal of this training was for their front- line police officers to be able to notice changes in their area and look for the possibility of terrorist activities. It also involved learning and reading graffiti for clues to radicalization in a neighborhood. The goal is to move from being first responders to first preventers.
The Expert that created this program developed training manuals and identified best practices for officers. He also organizes COPPRA conferences around Europe. He will be presenting this information at a conference in Washington DC this week.

After that, we traveled to Ghent, northwest of Brussels, for a presentation on STROP. Strop means “noose” and is a nickname for the citizens of Ghent. It refers back to an incident hundreds of years ago where the citizens refused to pay a tax to the King and were paraded through the streets with nooses around their necks, and then hung.
The new STROP, started in 2011, is a volunteer (opt-in) program for officers to cross train and be involved in all kinds of operations. They can choose which task they would like to sign up for: intervention, community police, traffic police or detective work. The idea is that the officers work at their regular assignments, then choose part of their workload in whatever interests them. It’s a way to understand each others’jobs and get to know different people. The Ghent Police Force lives by these rules:

Equality – all officers are equal no matter the rank or division
Every job is important
Know your public and respect them
Support and respect each other
No secrets, don’t commit offenses
Work hard
Safety first
Every success is everyone’s success
United we stand
Have fun

Their other motto is “Make the city safe for citizens, unsafe for the criminals”.

Word of the day – “red-handed” – this was a phrase that was a little hard to translate, but ended up to be very handy.

-Tammy Fleming

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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After waking up and eating breakfast we began our day by being picked up at 8:30am and driving to the town of Genk where the “Police School Limburg” is located. We went into the training center where we were given a brief overview of Belgium, Belgium’s police structure, and the educational paths that officers take to fill a number of different positions available in their ranking system, by the center’s expert Joke Steyvers. Following a very informative power point presentation and interactive discussion, the center’s director Jacky Vastmans, gave us a tour of the training facility were we saw  trainees in the class room setting as well as in weapons training operations.

We then departed from the training facility for our next destination which was the police department of the city Maaseik. Chief Commissioner Godfried Gerarts gave us a power point presentation of how the structure of the Belgium police is set up and a very detailed description of how he operates is department of officers in his local jurisdiction. This is when we were exposed to the everyday tasks of an operational police department. After our briefing, Chief Commissioner Godfried Gerarts took us all out to the field to see how the officers operate a traffic control point. A “T.C.P.” is where officers block off a section of road and pull over random vehicles searching for drugs, driving under the influence, and making sure that drivers have the proper paper work up to date like insurance and registration.

In Belgium, police officers do not need a reason to pull people over like American police officer’s need. Although a large number of people were pulled to the side of the road and checked by police, it did not seem that the public were angry at all. I think one of the biggest reasons is the efficiency of the police to make their checks and have the driver’s on their way again. I timed a few cars stopped and they were pulled over on average for 2 minutes. I seemed to get the idea that the police where not inconveniencing the public at all but ensuring that drivers on the road are following the baseline guidelines for operating a motor vehicle.

We watched the officers for short while stopping and checking cars and then we all split off into small groups and did a ride along in squad cars to see how the officers run a patrol and stop random cars for quick checks. Again when the officers would stop a random vehicle the average stop was about 2 minutes. Seems to be just enough time to check and see if the driver is coherent and if their insurance is up to date. Again the public did not seem to mind that they were being pulled over and questioned by the police as you might see in the United States. I think this is due to a more active interaction of the officers with the public in, day to day activities.

As the sun was setting, we drove to Belgium’s Federal and Local Police building in Brussels. Commissioner Saad Amranl Idrissi gave us a power point presentation about Coordination of the Organization of European Summits. This was a man that was very excited and enthusiastic about the Belgium’s police procedures to deal with large protesting crowds that gather near the NATO, and EU Institutions buildings. Since we had been on the move for almost 12 hours at this point it was very hard to stay focused, but the information that Mr. Idrissi presented was a very new way to look at protesters.

The Belgian way to deal with protesters is to work together with them so that the protesters can exercise their freedom to have a voice but also the police gain more cooperation from the protesters and the need for violence is greatly reduced. The whole idea is not to fight the protesters but to work with them as a team. This way everyone wins because the people can exercise their right to voice their opinions and the police do not need to get physical with the public.

By 9:30pm we were on our way back to the hotel to get some shut eye so that we can get up and do it again tomorrow. This was a day that was jammed packed full of activities. Not only did we see a number of different areas of Belgium, but we learned just about as much as anyone could in one day. What a day indeed.

A Russel Timms Production

 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today we spent time with the Belgian Crisis Center in Brussels. They explained that it is similar to our Homeland Security. Every citizen carries an ID card with a chip that pretty much tells your entire life story. Currently, there is a woman in charge of that department. Our talk was from Alain Lefevre, the director of the coordination efforts. He said he thought the biggest threat to Belgian security in a crisis would be vital supplies, such as electricity, petroleum and gas.
We also went to the Military complex in Leopoldsburg. We were invited to a planning session for a mock violent demonstration exercise. They explained how they use their water canon vehicles (I call them “water bombers”) in an escalated situation. It has loudspeaker messages in 27 languages. It is used to persuade protesters to leave an area, when all other negotiation options are exhausted.
Our last adventure of the day was with the Federal and Local Police . There was a European Union Summit today, so traffic was heavy on our way back to Brussels. We just missed a police action we learned about concerning the “Black Box” , a group of very organized troublemakers. The Police were able to quickly surround them, get them out of the crowd and arrest them all. The Black Box are a group of people sometimes accompanied by a clown band, that come dressed in black, with ski masks, cause some vandalism, change their clothes quickly, and then vanish into the crowd.
We got a tour of the EU perimeter and police barricades. We learned how traffic, protesters and heads of state are all managed. They do this once a month.
-Karen Hansen

Word of the day- “water bombers” – very large vehicles with water canons

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today our group of Gateway Global Scholars started the day with breakfast at the Apollo Hotel in Amsterdam. Next, we boarded a train to Brussels, Belgium by way of Rotterdam. It was supposed to take 3 hours, but ended up taking 6 hours due to the snow on the rails. We arrived in Brussels at 2 pm. We were supposed to go to Brugge today, but the trains were too unreliable.
We checked into our hotel and went exploring to Grand Place, a square with beautiful tall buildings built in 1647. We stopped by a chocolate shop called “La Cure Gourmande”. I bought the most famous chocolate in the world. I must say it’s not very sweet- it’s just perfect. Then we celebrated my birthday at an Italian restaurant with big bowls of spaghetti. Tomorrow is an early day with the Brussels Police. We will travel to the west side of the country to visit their police school, and a local police department.
-Jesus Sandoval
Community Policing Scholar.

Word of the day – “fiets”- bicycles

 

 

 

Monday, March 11, 2013

“One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jew!” -Anne Frank (11April 1944). Today we had a busy day. We went to the Van Gogh museum, red light district, Anne Frank Huis,and Madame Tussaud’s.
Still cold here and had to make some purchases of earmuffs, hats, and sweaters. We did a lot of walking and enjoyed the Anne Frank Huis.

The Anne Frank Huis was very educational and interesting. We got to see the inside of their house and where they were in hiding and learned that how small the actual hiding area was. She described it as a very big room and in all actuality it’s isn’t bigger than a hotel room. And with having 8 people living in that small space made us realize how we take things for granted.
Then we ended the day with a dinner at Hard Rock. Everyone is busy tonight working on homework because tomorrow will have a lot of travel.

Word of the day- “urinois”- outdoor and open air urinals for men.

-Sara Harris