SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch police chief Erik Akerboom has told television talk show Jinek it would be an illusion to think problems within the force can be eradicated within a few years.
Akerboom was commenting on claims by former police advisor Carel Boers, who said last week the police are failing to tackle a culture of discrimination and bullying.
Boers, who was hired to advise the force on its diversity policy, said he had witnessed officers using derogatory language about citizens, including racial slurs, and being openly disparaging about colleagues from minority ethnic backgrounds.
‘It’s quite normal in the police for people to say: “You’re a Moroccan and I’m never going to trust you”,’ he wrote in a letter to justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus.
Boers accused Akerboom of refusing to acknowledge or deal with the problem. ‘Akerboom’s leadership consists of systematically avoiding any kind of conflict. It is more important for him not to make mistakes than to do the right thing,’ he said.
However, Akerboom told Jinek he was busy trying stamp out racism, intimidation and inappropriate sexual behaviour on a daily basis. Such problems, he said, are part of society in general.
‘We are only human,’ the police chief told the show. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that there had been 1,500 internal investigations into police officers, many of which revolved around questions of integrity.
‘But the image that we are a racist police force, with a racist leadership, is wrong. There is no question of that,’ he said.