Sjamira Roseburg: Urgent Reassessment Needed by Ministry of Justice

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Sjamira Roseburg Candidate # 5 URSM party
~ Sint Maarten’s Safety Threatened by Hasty Police Cell Transfer Decision ~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — As the attorney of the inmates association in Sint Maarten and as an candidate on the URSM slate, I am deeply concerned about the recent decision by the Ministry of Justice to transfer the detention center at Philipsburg Police Station back to the police, effective November 11, 2023. This abrupt change in organizational structure has raised significant concerns within the Sint Maarten community, particularly regarding public safety.

One pressing issue is the understaffing problem that has plagued the police force. This decision means that police officers will now have to take on the roles of prison guards, a complex transition that demands thorough training and a streamlined process to ensure the safety and security of the community.

Before October 10th, 2010, the Police Force held individuals in police cells for up to 10 days before transferring them to Point Blanche Prison when necessary. However, the current situation is different, with people sometimes being incarcerated in police cells for extended periods due to prison overcrowding. The existing lack of manpower and resources within the police force exacerbates this concern, and failing to make necessary adjustments could have severe consequences for both inmates and the community’s security.

Another critical issue is the lack of proper training and resources within the police force to handle inmates, especially those with mental health issues. This poses a significant risk to both the patients and the community, as these individuals require specialized care and attention that the police force may not be adequately equipped to provide.

Implementing this change at this time could result in fewer police officers on the streets during the peak season, elections, and morning traffic regulation issues. It could lead to inadequate detainee treatment, a lack of budget, and additional strain on an already shrinking police budget. This situation could further demoralize personnel who are already grappling with unfulfilled promises and job security concerns, while more responsibilities are added to their already overloaded plates. Issues such as rechtspositie and backlog payments to personnel remain unresolved, as the police force is still awaiting pay out.

The safety of our community is at stake, and a thorough reassessment by the Ministry of Justice is urgently needed. Continuing down this path may lead to failure, and the well-being of both the community and those entrusted with maintaining law and order must be protected. Such an intricate transition cannot be rushed, and all aspects of this decision must be meticulously reviewed and adjusted to ensure a smooth transfer. The importance of community safety should be paramount, and the ministry must take immediate action to address these concerns.