Philipsburg – On Wednesday, September 29, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson visited the National Police Academy in Apeldoorn, Netherlands as her last stop before returning to Sint Maarten. Minister Richardson received a warm welcome from Team Chief and Project Leader for Education in the Dutch Caribbean Region, Mr. Rob Appelhof and Sector Head of Basic Police Education of the Police Academy, Mr. Rik de Boer. During the work visit, a presentation was given as it relates to the institution, the curriculum, and the training that the National Police Academy offers in the Netherlands and in Sint Maarten.
The Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) currently benefits from a cooperation agreement whereby instructors from the National Police Academy visit Sint Maarten to administer courses. Minister Richardson sees this cooperation as an added value for KPSM however, she firmly believes that an on-campus experience is more impactful and ingraining. As such, the Ministry of Justice is exploring opportunities for officers in training to be afforded an opportunity to experience a blended education trajectory that includes either the ORV (Opleidingsinstituut Rechtshandhaving en Veiligheid) Institute in Curaçao or the National Police Academy in the Netherlands.
Minister Richardson was particularly intrigued by Mr. Appelhof’s vision to develop a unified learning curriculum for all the police forces within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He foresees a future where the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom along with the Dutch Caribbean municipalities (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) each have their own accredited training institute in an effort to train all officers within the Kingdom in a uniformed manner. This is in total alignment with Minister Richardson’s vision and pursuit to have the Law Enforcement Institute of Sint Maarten, established.
Having a tour of the National Police Academy in the Netherlands gave Minister Richardson and her support staff a chance to see the various classrooms and training equipment needed to ensure the institute is outfitted with the necessary environments to help facilitate specialized courses and more. As the National Police Academy has seven locations in the Netherlands, Minister Richardson requested that the blueprint of the most modern institution be shared with her, so that the design for the Law Enforcement Institute of Sint Maarten can use this as a guide when the design is being made.
During the discussions, Minister Richardson stated her wish to support KPSM and its officers to be the best that they can be and queried about the areas of improvement needed. Mr. Appelhof stated that a fitness and dojo facility are needed for KPSM so that they can conduct proper fitness training for the staff. Prior to hurricanes Irma and Maria, equipment was shipped to Sint Maarten for this purpose, however, the intended space was damaged. The equipment remains secured, however, the Ministry is in need of a location to execute the training.
Minister Richardson and her delegation were also given an opportunity to experience the virtual shooting range. With the virtual shooting system, the cost of purchasing ammunition for training can be reduced significantly. Where the National Police Academy once used over two thousand rounds of ammunition, they can now use less than one thousand rounds of ammunition as officers first sharpen their skills on the virtual platform and test these skills with live ammunition thereafter. This is a direction Minister Richardson wishes to explore for Sint Maarten as a means to also reduce cost.
Mr. Appelhof and his team expressed much gratitude to Minister Richardson for visiting their institution. He expressed that it was quite an honor that the Minister saw it of importance to visit and learn about their National Police Academy. This working visit paves the way for the opportunity to make a connection and build a meaningful working relationship with the National Police Academy in the best interest of KPSM.
Mr. Appelhof is expected to visit Sint Maarten in the coming weeks in connection with an upcoming graduating class of KPSM. During that visit, Mr. Appelhof and Minister Richardson will meet again to discuss their vision and plans.
Minister Richardson expressed her commitment to strengthening all agencies within the Ministry of Justice. “That is the purpose of my work visit to the Netherlands. Mission accomplished!” stated Minister Richardson.
“I am grateful that this work visit has brought much awareness and many connections in various areas that directly or indirectly affect the services of the Justice chain in Sint Maarten. The face-to-face meetings have intrigued our colleagues and partners in the Netherlands to work more closely with us, to support us, and give guidance where and when necessary as we are all dealing with the same or similar matters,” she continued.
“The real work begins as my team and I forge forward to apply what we have learned. There are a lot of changes and improvements up ahead. I assure the civil servants of the Ministry of Justice and the people of Sint Maarten that all efforts are geared towards the overall betterment of our justice system with the sole interest of protection, safety and, security.” concluded Minister Richardson.