THE BOTTOM- On Saba, there has been surprise and concern during the New Year’s celebration over the display of weapons by at least one off-duty officer of the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force (KPCN), who pulled out his service weapon in an entertainment venue in the early morning of January 1.
Reportedly, there is another case, unrelated to the first, where another off-duty officer also displayed his weapon.
The incidents have raised questions and unrest on the island, known for being exceptionally calm. “I wonder if this happens on Bonaire as well and what consequences there are for displaying this kind of behaviour,” says Saskia J. Matthew of the political party The Party for Progress, Equality, and Prosperity (PEP) in a conversation with ABC Online Media.
The incident in question occurred in the early morning of January 1, 2024, at the Ocean Club in Fort Bay. The officer in question, not in uniform and clearly participating in the festivities, reportedly displayed his weapon. According to Matthew, the incident caused unnecessary tension and unrest.
The presence of an off-duty police officer carrying a weapon in such an environment raises significant concerns on the island. Saba is known for being safe, and the sight of an officer using their weapon during a social gathering is seen by many as disturbing and inappropriate. The involved officer was present as a partygoer and consumed alcohol. “The behaviour of the officer is not in line with what is expected of a law enforcement officer on the island,” says the young politician.
According to witnesses, the already tense situation escalated further when another off-duty officer had a confrontation with another attendee at the party. The officer in question allegedly made a throat-slitting gesture. This behaviour is also the subject of much discussion on the smallest BES island.
In the meantime, there are various videos going around on the internet of the incident, in which both the weapon and the Officer in question can be seen.
ABC Online Media, in the interest of fair reporting, has sought a response from the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force (KPCN) but received a somewhat nondescript answer, as is often the case in such situations. “An investigation into the use of the firearm is being initiated. This is a standard procedure that is activated when a Officer has used their firearm and/or applied force,” said the spokesperson for KPCN on Tuesday afternoon.
Unfortunately, KPCN rarely provides openness about internal matters, nor does the Corps feel compelled to respond publicly to indignation arising from alleged unnecessarily rough or unacceptable police actions. Lately, there has been increasing concern, even among the press on Bonaire, about sometimes seemingly unnecessary rough or unacceptable police conduct, as well as the unwillingness or lack of willingness of the Corps leadership to respond substantively to press inquiries.