Policemen that drafted false police reports “should have been suspended immediately”

Last week, the judge concluded that a policeman from Rotterdam has lied in a police report about the arrest of garage owner Atik Samur. Security images show that Samur did not resist the arrest, even though the police officers reported he did. Marc Schuilenburg, Professor of Digital Surveillance at Erasmus School of Law, discusses the seriousness of the situation and pleads for an extensive investigation into the officer in question.

A written record by an investigation officer, for example, a police officer, is evidence under Dutch criminal law. Therefore, it is crucial that officers solely speak the truth in these reports. “A judge has to trust what an officer reports”, says Schuilenburg. “Society should also be able to trust that the system functions independently. In addition, the police must be honest and ethical. That integrity has been damaged as well.” 

The Dutch national criminal investigation department Rijksrecherche has announced an investigation into the officer and their colleague. According to Schuilenburg, the research must be extensive “to check whether he has reported everything correctly, but also whether he has reported everything about himself. For example, when the officer has been fined himself in the past.” The lie of the officer could lead to legal consequences, as has happened before in another case: “in that case, the officer had to complete 180 hours of community service and got a professional ban of two years due to falsification of documents and perjury”, remembers the Professor of Digital Surveillance. 

“Totally insufficient” 

Schuilenburg is dissatisfied with how the police force of Rotterdam handled the issue: “it is totally insufficient. The two police officers involved should have been suspended immediately. It is a complete mystery to me why this has not happened. Pending the current investigation, this should have happened immediately. The force also failed to suspend in the past when officers took part in a racist WhatsApp group. This shows that the force’s leadership intervenes too little, too late.” 

Even though these actions hurt the confidence in the police, citizens should not start filming every interaction with officers, says Schuilenburg: “Despite the previous examples, there is no visible trend within the last ten to twenty years of deliberate forgery by the Dutch police. As long as that does not exist, citizens should not play cops themselves. Despite the other examples, one can trust that the police act impartially.” 

More information

Click here for the article of Rijnmond (in Dutch). 

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