The Zeeland West Brabant police force has sacked two officers and moved two others to a new department after an investigation into abusive behaviour and the wrongful use of police weapons.
The forces started the investigation in February 2022 on the back of a number of complaints about the team based in the town of Walcheren.
Now, 18 months later, the investigators say a small group of officers ran unnecessary risks with their guns which “contravene police professionalism”.
In addition, officers had gone “far beyond acceptable boundaries and created an unsafe workplace for many team members,” police said in a statement on Thursday.
This involved “prolonged sexual and other transgressive behaviour”, including “(woman-)unfriendly and sexist remarks, as well as seriously abusive behaviour”.
The group was also involved in a Whatsapp group where discrimination and racism were commonplace.
Two officers have now been sacked and two others told they will be fired if they offend again. Two other police officers left the force earlier of their own accord.
“I have great admiration for the whistleblowers who have felt unsafe for a longer period,” district chief Joost Manusama said. “I am sure that we are now on the right path and I will keep pressing forward by making sure these issues and dilemmas can and are discussed in the workplace.”
The police have been struggling to improve their image following a string of racist and discriminatory incidents and serving police officers made dozens of complaints about racist or discriminatory behaviour by colleagues in the six months to April, the NRC reported earlier this year.
This was the first time the police have given an overview of complaints within the force, many of which were made by senior officers.
One of the reports involved an officer in The Hague who was sent home after making ‘extremely inappropriate comments’ on social media. The officer is an active member of the far-right PVV party and was a candidate in the local elections last year.
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