Structural improvement

Structural improvement

Today’s story about an illegal substance control at Marnix College VSBO in Curaçao that went horribly wrong is relevant for St. Maarten too. Faced with apparent delinquency among students, the high school’s management had requested an inspection.

However, the combined team of police and Customs did not just search all classrooms and schoolbags but singled out several students for closer examination in the faculty room. As it turns out, the boys were first made to take off their pants and underwear before being ordered to bend over twice, while girls had to pull up their polos, be it in front of a female officer.

This obviously led to an uproar once the word got out, especially after it became known that only a Stanley knife and two pairs of scissors had been found, no drugs. The school board VPCO as well as authorities apologised and both announced investigations.

Police Chief Ellis said if the methods used were not justified by the circumstances such as probable cause there could be consequences for those involved. He also acknowledged that perhaps teams conducting this type of operation need more specific training and that the force should learn from this.

The latter must be remembered if St. Maarten’s future Police Complaint Committee reported on in Tuesday’s edition is to start handling these types of incidents. Yes, one of the goals is to reprimand and/or punish individuals guilty of transgressions, but achieving structural improvement is just as, if not more, important.