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Police academic year begins in Apeldoorn

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Police academic year begins in Apeldoorn

On the first Monday in September, the Netherlands Police Academy in Apeldoorn always celebrates the opening of the academic year. That day came around again today! Outgoing Security and Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius opened the 2023-2024 academic year at the main location in Apeldoorn. This year, she did this together with spoken word artist Atta de Tolk. 

Before the official ceremony, visitors to the meeting were given four interesting mini-lectures. Researcher and lecturer Teun-Pieter de Snoo spoke about the moral dilemmas police officers face at, for example, climate demonstrations. Edwin Bakker, Sector Head of Knowledge and Research at the Netherlands Police Academy spoke about his research into the increasingly important task of guarding and security. Researcher Sara Stronks explained why, as a police officer in highly diverse neighbourhoods, you sometimes have to go the extra mile to connect with the locals. And finally, intelligence lecturer Ruth de Vogel invited attendees into the world of data-driven working. She used an example to expose the opportunities, possibilities, and ethical dilemmas. 

Being recognisable 

After a break, chair of the day Joël Feliz, a member of the Netherlands Police for All task team, in the official ceremony spoke with director of the Netherlands Police Academy Leonard Kok and Police Commissioner Henk van Essen on the theme of professional police identity. "As police officers, we want to be among the people," said Henk van Essen. "Being recognisable to society is essential. To be that kind of police force, you have to be diverse. I once said: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. I was challenged on that. It’s better to say: treat others as they want to be treated."

The Blue Family 

Leonard Kok pointed out there is more to training police officers than teaching knowledge and skills. It is also about personal development involving physical, mental, and moral resilience, as well as a range of professional skills. Leonard also briefly discussed the The Blue Family documentary and the video segment in which former colleague Péris Conrad talked about an incident that took place at the Netherlands Police Academy. Leonard: "It had a very painful effect on me. But the pain this former colleague and many others have experienced during their training is so much greater. And with all the energy we are now putting into diverse professionalism, into Policing for All, we must not lose sight of that pain from the past. A form of pain, the depth of which I cannot truly relate to with my background, but which is there."

Adapted curriculum 

This was followed by a focus on diversity within the learning teams. And how we put into practice the concept of professional police identity in education. Chérif ait Abderrahman, lecturer in Behaviour and Communication at Netherlands Police Academy Leusden, and Ariëlle Huijgen are involved in creating the national curriculum. They explained how diversity and inclusion have been given an important place in the education. We are still working on developing the curriculum. 

Lecturer of the Year 

Kathelijne van Kammen announced the Lecturer of the Year 2023. A jury elected lecturer Wieke van Enst from the bachelor team of Higher Police Education sector as the winner out of five nominees. "I am incredibly honoured," Wieke said, after the announcement. "But of course a lecturer does not act alone. There is a whole team behind you. And to be a good teacher, you also need good students. Let us not forget them, either." Kathelijne pointed out that this election is not about who is 'the best'. "All the nominated teachers are telling examples of all the teaching talent the Netherlands Police Academy possesses."

The best profession in the world 

The next part of the programme was a demonstration of professional inspections in VR. After this, chair of the day Joël Feliz engaged in a discussion with outgoing Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, including on the ban on police officers wearing expressions of faith or beliefs. The minister said that a uniform appearance is eminently non-discriminatory: there are no more distinctions, everyone is equal. "This also ends a discussion that was conducted about, not with, police officers. The decision creates calm and clearly sends out the message that the police are there for everyone, regardless of religion or belief," the Minister said. 

Finally, the Minister also spoke to future police professionals. "You have chosen the best profession in the world. You are the guardians of our rule of law. So I want to encourage you and let you know that you have my full support." After spoken word artist Atta de Tolk summed up the day in a text, the Minister declared the Police Education Year open. "What I have seen today enables me to say with full confidence: you will build a solid professional identity!"

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