St. Maarten Police Report: Police clarifies and rectifies press release

Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson

Police clarifies and rectifies press release

In connection with the press release from the Police Force of St. Maarten (KPSM) dated August 16, and published August 17, in the local newspapers and social media outlets, it was reported that there is an increase in armed robberies on St. Maarten. This, unfortunately, created some unsafe and insecure feelings among the community, and the Police Public Relations Department wants to have this press release, which has been taken out of context, totally clarified and rectified.

Reading the press release as written may lead one to assume that there is indeed a major problem on St. Maarten where armed robberies are concerned, and that the situation is becoming worse than in the past. This assumption, however, is totally false.

The press release in question consists of information regarding the armed robberies. The release did not mention the period in which the increase had taken place, and the figures on how much it had increased.

To compare and clarify these parts of the press release, note the following: In the period of January 2015 until August of 2015, the St. Maarten Police Force registered 89 armed robberies. In comparison to 2015, the police force registered 57 armed robberies over the same period in 2016, which shows a decrease of 32 armed robberies in total, which is 35 percent less than in 2015.

Generally, armed robberies on St. Maarten have been on the decrease since 2011, and continue to decrease to date. The Police Force in collaboration with other partners in the justice chain, has invested tremendously in decreasing and solving this criminal act. A slight peak in the number of armed robberies was noticed in the first two weeks of August 2016. A peak as such is possible.  A total of nine armed robberies have been recorded over the period of August 1-16, 2016, which is higher in comparison to the other months of this year.

This situation should not raise any alarms and have the fullest attention of the police force. These cases are all under investigation.

The second part of the press release is a list of pre-cautionary measures that the police department offers to the public, and the business community as a tool to help them from possibly becoming a victim of robbery. The use of these safety tips totally remains at the discretion of the public and business community to make use of them or not. These safety tips are in no way intended to create any type of panic or unrest in the community.

Police officer shot dead in Bonaire

“It is with great sadness that the management team of the Police Force of St. Maarten received a message from our colleagues on the sister island of Bonaire (KPCN), that our colleague and friend officer Ferdinand Bakx was shot and killed in the line of duty,” said a police press statement.

The incident took place around 10:00pm on August 17, when officer Bakx was answering a call of a break-in the neighborhood of Sabadeco Shores. Once on the scene, he caught the suspects in the act.

The situation escalated and turned into a chase, during which gunfire was exchanged. Officer Bakx was seriously wounded during the gunfire exchange. He was transported to the hospital where he died of his wounds. An in depth investigation into this case is ongoing.

Chief of Police Carl John and the management team “on behalf of colleagues of the KPSM extends sincere condolences to the wife of officer Bakx, his family, friends and colleagues of the KPCN and wishes them much strength during these very difficult times,” the statement concluded.