SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Rotterdam police have started an investigation into a police Whatsapp group in which officers used racist and derogatory terms to describe people who have an ethnic minority background, the NRC has reported.
The closed group, in which nine police officers were involved, was shut down in February 2019 following complaints from other officers, but acting police chief Karin Krukkert has now set up an investigation following the NRC revelations.
‘Given the seriousness of the messages, we think the issue should have been taken wider at the time,’ she told the paper. ‘A far-reaching investigation is being set up.’
The police officers were commenting on a video which showed a white teenager being beaten up by a number of black teens in the Rotterdam district of Spijkenisse. They described the perpetrators as ‘cancer people and c*** Africans’ who they would like to ‘shoot’, the NRC said.
Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus have added their voices to calls for action. Aboutaleb told city councillors on Wednesday that the public prosecution department is looking into the comments.
Tough Midden-Nederland police chief Martin Sitalsing, who has been charged with tackling racism within the force, has called for a ‘very tough approach’ to the Rotterdam case, and a criminal investigation.
‘These app groups are a phenomenon within the police, and you can find them everywhere,’ he told the NRC. ‘I want to get together to find out how we can tackle this as a whole, rather than on an incidental basis.’
Last year, a former team leader in The Hague’s police force said the city’s division is riddled with racism and discrimination. Fatima Aboulouafa, who is of Moroccan origin, said some officers in the city described themselves as Marokkanenverdelgers (‘eradicators of Moroccans’) and cited instances of officers using excessive violence which they allegedly lied about in witness statements.