Police Protest

Aruba’s police force lost two members to undisclosed illnesses, in the last thirty days. Yesterday, the men in blue mourned one of their colleagues by blowing sirens and lowering the flag to half-mast.

Their Union leader was on hand to speak to the media, and what he had to say wasn’t pretty.

Apparently, the Police headquarters on Wilhelminastraat, a gorgeous art deco building, is making members sick. True to its age, the building is moldy, and nothing has been done about it for a long time.

There has been talk about moving the HQ to a different address but the process is slow. In the past they had evacuated the building once, but were told to get back after a while, following some kind of cleanup.

The minister of Justice was nowhere to be found.

His people laid out their charges against him, describing him as a man of promises and no action.

As a former policeman they expected him to take better care of his men.

Old phones, ancient computers, a scarcity of bullet proof vests, no airbags in cars. In a recent chase of illegals, police men and women waded at Mangel Halto, in the lagoon up to their waist, and their cardboard shoes fell apart when they emerged from the water.

The men in blue called their work conditions unacceptable, and to top it off, an error made by the accounting department was corrected just now, and significant amounts of money were deducted from their January pay, no advance notice, no payment plan, as they were all recovering from the December expenses.

Member of parliament Molina, also a former policeman was nowhere to be found, either. The protest was triggered by the passing of Rigoberto Tromp, 62, a long time member of the force, and according to Union leader a number of other colleagues are also battling fatal illnesses, which they blame the building for.

I checked with a lawyer: The sick building syndrome (SBS) is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building. The main cause? Poor ventilation or poorly maintained air conditioning systems.

We should not take it lightly.

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January 24, 2023
Rona Coster