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Army assists police in capital

Alex van Veen

5 February 2007 - A platoon of riot police of Schiphol Airport’s Military Police has last Sunday assisted the Amsterdam police in keeping the peace during the Ajax-Feijenoord football match. By deploying the army, a fervent wish of Police Corps Commander Welten and Mayor Cohen is made to come true.

“This is a good experience, we will certainly repeat this”, Welten said after the football classic won by Ajax. “This collaboration helps colleagues get to know each other and that is a good thing in case of calamities”. Staff shortages and resulting work pressure were cited by Welten as the most important arguments.

If it is up to Cohen and Welten, the presence of Military Police in the streets will soon become the most normal thing in the world. The gentlemen want the army to assist their police corps in keeping the peace, fighting terrorism, disaster relief, and support during all kinds of events and crises.

Early last year, 35 Military Police guarded embassies and consulates in the capital during a trial period of four months. General Dick Berlijn, commander of the armed forces, announced after the trial period that he is willing to supply more people and equipment for police tasks, also in other parts of the country. “The Defence Department has the people, the equipment and the know-how. I offer that to the police, the Justice Department and the fire brigades”, Berlijn said.

He is thinking among other things of following suspects with army helicopters equipped with special sensors. The army chief further offers the police assistance in detecting nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Military staff working for the coast guard can in specific cases also be deployed for police work.

In the past, the army was deployed in the capital on an ad hoc basis. For example, at the urging of Cohen, military staff took over the tasks of striking fire fighters in December 2005. In September 2001, the army was deployed to guard tunnels around the city against terrorism. And we all remember the armoured tanks that were used to break down the barriers at the Vondelstraat squat, in April 1980.

Originally published at Ravage Digitaal


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