Police open Alpha Team outpost at Airport SXM

AIRPORT–The Police Force of St. Maarten KPSM has an Alpha Team substation at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM. A ceremony took place at the Airport on Monday, attended by Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman, Justice Ministry section heads and Airport officials.

The Alpha Team is a close collaboration within a team comprising representatives of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussees, Customs, French-side Police Aux Frontiere (PAF) part-time with the team, KPSM Border Protection, KPSM Detectives and the airport security.

Minister Boasman congratulated Police Chief Carl John and his team for the initiative. “This shows you that St. Maarten takes safety very seriously. I am finding myself congratulating Chief John on numerous occasions, but he and his team are doing a great job. Congratulations to all parties who have contributed to the success of this project,”Boasman said.

The substation will be headed by Police Commissioner Denise van Geertruij-Jacobs, who is head of the Judicial Division and head of KPSM Border Patrol and Immigration Control.

Airport SXM Interim Managing Director Michel Hyman congratulated the police and said the station is added value for the airport.

“It is a well-known fact that we live in a very dangerous world. Since 9/11, the aviation industry has become a constant target for terrorists. Airports around the world have had more than their own share of threats and attacks, and while we thank God that our own Princess Juliana International Airport has so far been spared the horrors of such attacks, we are reminded each day that safety and security should always be priority for all of us,” Hyman said.

“Naturally, we take safety and security seriously. Our Security Department exists to ensure the protection and safety of all the users of the Airport, from the passengers and crew to the ground personnel, staff, employees, stakeholders, the general public and the facilities that we have. But safety is a team effort. That is why it gives me great pleasure to address you today on the occasion of the opening of this office where the Alpha Team will operate from.”

The Alpha Team has been working closely with the Airport operators and the airlines to coordinate action against terrorist and other criminal threats to the safety and security of aviation on the island. Hyman said the cooperation between the airport and the police in this area is at an all-time high.

“It has taken several years to get to this point. You will recall that a few years ago, SXM Airport signed an SLA [service-level agreement – Ed.] with the Ministry of Justice to secure and improve the border services at the Airport by entering into a partnership to install ABC E-Gates and APC Kiosks.

“In fact, someone once said safety is as simple as ABC; in other words, Always Be Careful. However, for us at SXM Airport, safety is not a slogan; it is what we do 24/7, because we know that safety is not the absence of risk, but the proper management of risk. And, as the saying goes, the safest risk is the one that was not taken. I can assure you that the airport and KPSM are working together to provide the best possible safety and security by minimizing risk,” stated Hyman during his speech.

Collaborative effort

Van Geertruij-Jacobs said in her address that the cooperation between all uniformed services is at an all-time high. She said that when the island became a country; the police management had been given an assignment: broadly, to achieve a professional Police Force, guided by information within the community.

“We took this assignment to build this Force very seriously. With acceptance of our limitations (in terms of financial investment), we keep improving our service. Doing so, we usually don’t take time to reflect and celebrate our successes. But on a day like today you want to do that.

“Let me mention a few things that we were able to achieve with our committed workers: We prepared Community Police Officers. We trained more dogs. We have the most important information centre where we work with national and international partners. Our detectives have a lot of professionalisms that did not exist in our Force before,” said Jacobs.

“Our oldest new service is the Interpol with a National Central Bureau in Philipsburg within the Sint Maarten Police Force. New, because it did not exist before country Sint Maarten. Interpol is old because it was one of our first achievements after country Sint Maarten. Interpol was established at the beginning of 2011.

“Our newest old service is the Immigration. I use this opportunity to welcome our Border Protection and Immigration Control colleagues back in our organisation. I want to remind you of the added value of your presence within the force. It saves time and money for communication and information sharing. We gained a lot in terms of effectiveness as well. The past year has been very tough, but also fun as we are moving forwards.”

The work of each team member is based on the power of his or her organisation. In the case of PAF, collaboration is based on existing treaties. The team cannot spare any of its members because the members complement each other.

By establishing this team, the Police Force plans to promote information exchange and coordination between parties working at the Airport.

“Not only with the judicial services that I just mentioned, but also with the partners of Sint Maarten Aviation Handlers Association. I am positive that a wealth of information will come out of this working relationship, which will increase our capability to react to potential threats or calamities primarily at the Airport, but also in St. Maarten,” stated Jacobs.

She also mentioned in her address that police for the first time will be giving service to the public at the Airport. With the increasing number of passengers who travel through the Airport, this is necessary. Sometimes people are victimised right before they leave the island and until now there was no possibility to file a complaint at the airport.

In addition, tourists now have a point where their questions can be directed.

“Taking all of this together, the presence of the police gives a higher sense of safety and security to passengers and I want to believe to the staff as well,” Jacobs said. “This Airport is good and professional. But police presence brings more safety, helps further to meet international requirements and brings the service and security to an even higher level. It increases the credibility of the Airport and our country.

“That is why I am sure that our presence at the Airport brings economic value. The opening of this substation is not the end, but the beginning of new major developments, developments where we professionalise further and give safety to help support the economic developments on the island.”

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/67184-police-open-alpha-team-outpost-at-airport-sxm