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St. Maarten police cars do not meet safety requirements

POSTED: 02/19/2013

St. Maarten – The condition of the police force’s car fleet is worrisome, Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte told this newspaper yesterday. “Cars for emergency assistance are on the road seven days a week, 24 hours per day, and they are often driving at a very high speed. The wear and tear on those cars is insane.”

When St. Maarten became an autonomous country on October 10, 2010 the police force inherited material from the Netherlands Antilles that was “in bad shape,” De Witte said. “Computers, mobility, office equipment, everything.”

In 2011 the force wrote a mobility plan. “We made an inventory of our resources, we recorded what had to be written off and we also wrote a maintenance plan. That plan was accepted by the justice minister in 2011. But the finances were a stumbling block: we were not the only ones to find our estate in bad shape.”

In October of last year the police force raised the alarm. “We said that with the cars we had at our disposal it was not possible to provide an adequate police service. Initially we solved the problem with rental cars. Later we obtained a guarantee letter. We bought four cars that have in the meantime arrived and we have ordered six more. I expect them to be here within the next two months.”

The chief commissioner said that the old fleet does not meet safety requirements for the officers that drive them and that the justice minister has acknowledged the situation. “That is why we are getting ten new cars.”

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