The federal police yesterday inaugurated a memorial wall to commemorate the 27 members of the federal police who have died on duty since the police reforms of 2001 brought together civilian police and quasi-military gendarmerie.
The ceremony was attended by federal home affairs minister Pieter De Crem, Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close, police chief Marc De Mesmaeker and the commanding officer of the Brussels-Capital-Ixelles police zone, Michel Goovaerts. Relatives of the fallen officers were also present.
A new law creating a single national police force was proposed on 7 December 1998 following the revelations of competition between judicial police and gendarmerie in the Marc Dutroux case which played an important role in ensuring Dutroux and his accomplices were able to remain free to continue on their crime spree in which six girls were kidnapped and sexually molested, and four of them murdered. Of the four co-accused in the case, one is now dead, and two are on conditional release. Only Dutroux is still in custody, and though his lawyers are working for his own conditional release, it seems unlikely he will ever leave prison.
The creation of the unified police force took until 2001 to implement.
The memorial wall features the names of the 27 officers killed on duty. “Each case concerns a person whose task, mission and daily vocation was to make your life and our co-existence safer and more secure,” said minister De Crem. “These were the junior and senior officers who, driven by a strong sense of justice, chose not only to exercise a profession, but also to fulfil a mission.”
The memorial wall is installed in the Polis Center, the central headquarters of the federal police in Brussels, which sees the passage of hundreds of police officers every day. It is accompanied by a condolences book, in which anyone may add a message of remembrance.
“Let us praise the daily efforts of our police men and women,” said police chief De Mesmaeker. “Let us be grateful. Let us be proud. Let us always stand with them: physically, through our deeds and our decisions, but also by our thoughts of the fallen ones.”