PHILIPSBURG:--- In accordance with the Landsverordening Klachtencommissie Politieel Optreden a Law Enforcement Complaint Committee was established by National Decree. The Ministry of Justice established this committee to create the opportunity for members of the community to submit an official complaint about the conduct of Law Enforcement Officers. The legal basis for the installment of such a complaint committee has been in effect since 2010. Minister Richardson in her strong ambition to strengthen the Ministry of Justice and understanding of the high impact that actions of law enforcement officers could have on an individual, has taken it upon herself to ensure that the already existing framework for an external law enforcement complaint committee was finally implemented and staffed with qualified professionals.
“It is my goal to establish a reality where respect is at the core of every moment of interaction between the officers and employees of the Ministry of Justice with every person within our community. The appointment of committee members and a secretary took longer than expected as it was imperative that we could guarantee suitable candidate members who could fulfill the roles with the high requirements of integrity, knowledge, and quality of work. I encourage the public to take a moment to review the complaints process and use this platform to support a healthy process whereby the Ministry through the complaints committee is ensuring accountability where and when identified necessary,” stated Minister Richardson.
A complaint is a written formal expression of dissatisfaction or concerns made to or about the service or behavior of a law enforcement officer. Complaints are a valuable source of feedback and an excellent tool for organizational development. Diligent and prompt attention to complaints can help identify and understand the shortcomings, within the organization and the employees, and improve the overall performance of the ministry.
The complaint committee consists of three members with the relevant level of expertise and knowledge in the law enforcement, legal and social field. Recently, a secretary has been appointed as well. The committee is an external and independent body that handles complaints about the conduct of law enforcement officers. Moreover, the committee forms a separate body and operation as a complaint instrument from the existing complaint procedure of the Internal Affairs Bureau of the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) and the Ombudsman.
The complaints procedure involves an initial assessment of the complaint followed by further investigation, the hearing of parties, preliminary findings, and responses to pre-findings. Once the committee comes to a conclusion and motivation, a report of the complaint processed is then submitted to the Minister of Justice for further decision-making.
The complaint committee is also responsible for thoroughly investigating complaints; ensuring that the complaints are resolved within 30 days, depending on the severity or complexity of each case; treating all parties fairly throughout the complaint process; practicing a high level of confidentiality throughout the grievance process; maintaining accurate and comprehensive records of each complaint, and the creation of a comprehensive database and secured filling system.
Complaints can be filed by filling in an online form at the website of the Ministry of Justice