In a controversial move for the otherwise chill nation of the Netherlands, the Dutch police have launched a new program that will target youth who "look too poor to own expensive clothes and jewelry."
New York City came under fire recently for their highly criticised "stop-and-frisk" strategy followed by the police there, and the situation in the Netherlands is quite similar.
According to information that a high-ranking Dutch source told local newspaper De Telegraaf that cops in Rotterdam are going to stop young people on the streets and question them about how they came to own the expensive clothing or jewelry they are wearing.
Rotterdam Police Chief Frank Paauw said that in some extreme cases, the authorities who are going to conduct checks can "undress" the youth and compel them to give their upscale clothes to the police.
The UK Independent translated the Dutch article and according to that, Chief Paauw said: "They are often young guests who consider themselves untouchable. We’re going to undress them on the street."
"We regularly take a Rolex from a suspect. Clothes rarely. And that is especially a status symbol for young people. Some young people now walk with jackets of €1800. They do not have any income, so the question is how they get there."
The young people who are being targeted by the cops do not have any source of income and are in a lot of debt already from previous convictions that they have to pay off.
Chief Paauw said that this "undermines the rule of law" and sends "a completely false signal to local residents." According to critics, though, the program is a recipe for racial profiling.
Anne Mieke Zwaneveld, a city ombudsman, told the newspaper: "We realized that [they] do not want to create the appearance that there is ethnic profiling but the chances of this happening are very large."
She said that it's legally hard to prove that cops are justified in just stripping people on the street. "It is not forbidden to walk around in the street. In addition, it is often unclear how such a piece of clothing is paid and how old it is."
A spokesperson for the anti-profiling group Control Alt Delete, Jair Schalkwijk, said that the program will more or less target people who "look like typical criminals" even though it promises not to.
The pilot program has been launched in Rotterdam's west section and the cops have announced that they will target one gang in particular. They said they will also target people who are linked to drug crimes and illegal gambling.
Let's just hope they don't take this too seriously or they might come after us regular folks next.
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