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Pool of Reflections memorial opened at the Netherlands Police Academy campus in Apeldoorn

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Pool of Reflections

Saturday 25 May saw the official opening of the Pool of Reflections (Spiegelvijver) at the Netherlands Police Academy campus in Apeldoorn. The pool is a memorial to former police colleagues who died by suicide. The choice of the Netherlands Police Academy as the location for the Pool of Reflections was a deliberate one. By creating the memorial, the police want to contribute to greater awareness of suicide and to breaking down the taboo about speaking of it – right from the start of police training.

Students of the Netherlands Police Academy formed a guard of honour at the opening, and confidential advisers were also on hand to provide support for the students if needed. The opening was hosted by the Director of the Netherlands Police Academy, Leonard Kok. Together with Commissioner Janny Knol, and Geertje Spijkerman who took the initiative for the memorial, he opened the Pool of Reflections by symbolically throwing a stone into the pool. 

Leonard Kok, Janny Knol and Geertje Spijkerman throw a stone in the pond

A memorial in a place to remember

In his speech, Leonard drew attention to the various aspects and facets of the memorial. “Both literally and figuratively we are creating a memorial, in a place to remember. I believe the memorial is further strengthened by this symbolism, that the symbolism underlines its message and intention, as it were. This place is also well chosen because the Netherlands Police Academy’s campus is home to the permanent experiential exhibition MensenWerk (Working with/as People). This exhibition literally stops you in your tracks and prompts you to think about what policing really means. And what it does or can do to us as people. MensenWerk also reminds us, in a very fitting, almost subtle way, of police people who have decided they no longer want to go on living.”

Police training cannot teach you not to feel 

“Policing brings burdens that impact police officers, and not everyone processes them in the same way. Or maybe I should put that period earlier in the sentence: ‘Not everyone processes them’. And although ‘teaching’ is second nature to us at the Netherlands Police Academy, this teaching does not encompass depression, trauma, and the desire not to go on living. There is no training that teaches police officers to always be able to handle everything they see behind closed doors. There is no module that teaches you not to feel, not to be affected by what you experience”, Leonard said. 

See the signs and take them seriously

“Where some people seem to keep going relatively easily, others may be impacted by everyday policing practice in ways that are difficult for us to understand. And yet it is precisely that understanding, that fellow feeling, I want to appeal to today, as we open this memorial. I urge myself, and all of us at the Academy and in the police organization, to open our eyes and ears to others. Look out for each other. Look out for people who seem to be coping just fine, and for those who feel they can’t go on. Keep an eye out for fellow students or officers who may be struggling. We need to see the signs and take them seriously”, Leonard urged.

Visiting the Pool of Reflections

The Pool of Reflections can be visited at any time, even if the rest of the campus is closed: there is a separate entrance on the Arnhemseweg. Beside the pool there is an information column, with some pebbles and markers. Friends and family of someone who died by suicide can choose a pebble and write something on it about the person. They can then place the pebble in the pool.

The Netherlands Police Academy students form a guard of honour


If you would like to talk to someone after reading this, there is support available. Within the police organization, you can talk with your manager or with the psychologist, counsellor, welfare officer or medical officer of your Unit’s Safe and Healthy Work Environment Team. You can also call 113 or 0800 - 0113, both anonymous, or chat anonymously via

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