Friday, Jun 05th

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Editorial - Every reasonable effort

The worst circumstances tend to bring out the best in people and that again appears to be the case with the shooting death of Police Officer Gamali “Benji” Benjamin. In addition to authorities imposing drastic security measures, many have offered material as well as spiritual support, donations, etc.

There also were plenty of suggestions, including one by the police union NAPB to erect a monument in Benjamin’s honour. He’s the first and only local police officer to have been killed this way in the line of duty, so the idea certainly sounds sympathetic.

The spot where the fatal incident occurred is probably not the most suitable location for a statue or bust, due to the lack of space. Perhaps the police station would be a better option.

As for the different recommendations on tackling delinquency, some are no doubt worthwhile, but require finances. The harsh reality is that the current budget issues allow little space to do much, although the immediate filling of 20 pending vacancies and purchase of more bulletproof vests along with other materials to ensure the safety of all officers were announced.

So were heightened patrols in Philipsburg together with other law enforcement agencies. However, this type of intensification tends to lasts a relatively short period in practice, usually because funding to, for example, pay the necessary overtime hours dries up.

Curaçao Justice Minister Nelson Navarro recently confirmed that the Netherlands is making 80 million euros available for additional assistance to the three Dutch Caribbean countries in their fight against crime by way of a master plan. St. Maarten is receiving temporary reinforcement of two teams of 25 so-called full-time equivalents (FTEs) mainly consisting of detectives, so 50 in total (see Saturday paper).

While white-collar crime “undermining society” and “extremely alarming” integrity issues are obviously the focus, regular offences and particularly violent ones ought not to be neglected. After all, they have the most direct impact on the community, with often immediate and serious consequences.

Every reasonable effort must be made to enhance security not just around Philipsburg, but also in other tourist-sensitive areas. The livelihood of practically everyone who calls “The Friendly Island” home depends on it.