This is one of those moments where I sit back, scratch my head and wonder, "did he really say that?" Crime is a problem in the Netherlands, but so are the law enforcement authorities, who have all but thrown in the towel on the fight against crime. Then we also have the chief of police in Amsterdam, who thinks that the police should not investigate crime if the victim had not taken sufficient precautions. Compulsory national IDs for everyone over 12 are one reaction from politicians, as are random searches.
But since combating crime probably does fall under his job description, the chief of police has now come up with a new idea: ringfencing Amsterdam. He says that the police wants to get a better grip on who's entering and leaving the city, so he proposes installing security gates at highway exits to scan all license plates. This will help find stolen cars, he says. It will also help people feel Watched. He also wants stricter traffic checks; they're like checkpoints where you're checked for alcohol in your breath, except at these checkpoints you can get stopped for any reason. I drove past one such checkpoint last Saturday. Apparently this sort of thing is constitutional. To top it all off, the chief of police also wants tighter checks on people who enter Amsterdam by rail or boat. I think we should call this the Erich Honecker Memorial Project.
People with ideas like this should not be in any position of authority, anywhere. Least of all should they be the chief of police. The fact that the Amsterdam police chief does not shy away from making such comments publicly (even if he might have them privately) is also frightening, because it means he's not too afraid of the reaction. And that tells you something about the sad state of people's affinity for civil liberties here.
Posted by qsi at December 17, 2002 08:55 PM
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