Stop, frisk and strip!
Dutch police have launched a controversial new program that targets youth who “look” too poor to own the expensive clothes and jewelry they’re wearing, according to reports.
For the pilot program — which critics say goes far beyond New York City’s highly criticized stop-and-frisk policing strategy — cops in Rotterdam will stop young people on the street and question them about how they afforded their designer duds and bling, a high-ranking police source told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
In some cases, police will “undress” the youth and force them to hand over the upscale gear, Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw told the paper.
“They are often young guests who consider themselves untouchable. We’re going to undress them on the street,” Paauw said, according to a translation by the UK Independent.
“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 police chief said.
The young men targeted by cops often have no income and are already in debt from fines stemming from previous convictions, he added.
That “undermines the rule of law” and sends “a completely false signal to local residents,” he said.
But critics say the policing strategy is a recipe for racial profiling.
“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,” City ombudsman Anne Mieke Zwaneveld told the paper.
It’s legally hard to prove cops are justified in stripping people of their clothing on the street, she said.
“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.”
Jair Schalkwijk,a spokesman for a national anti-profiling group Control Alt Delete, said the program flies in the face of a law enforcement promise not to target people who look like “typical criminals.”
The pilot program launched in the Rotterdam West section of the city.
Police say they will target one gang in particular, along with people linked to drug crimes and illegal gambling.