Brussels parliament to hold hearings on police operations
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    Brussels parliament to hold hearings on police operations

    © Belga

    The Brussels parliament is to organise hearings to discuss the working of the police in the region.

    The news comes after a number of clashes in recent months between youths and police, as well as ill-feeling regarding the policing of the lockdown measures intended to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

    The most serious incident came when a young man died after colliding with a police car in Anderlecht, after he tried to escape from a routine police identity check. That led to youths from across the city gathering in the commune to throw stones at police and wreck parked cars.

    One police officer had his service weapon taken, and shots were fired in the air as the thief ran away.

    The gun has now been returned, and the youth who took it faces charges.

    In other incidents, police attended another clash in great numbers, after another youth was caught standing outside his home in the Marolles district smoking a cigarette and talking to two friends, in defiance of social distancing rules.

    That led to a muscular police response caught on video, and complaints about the heavy-handed police response to a trivial complaint.

    The idea for the hearing comes from MPs Hilde Sabbe and Els Rochette (one.brussels/sp.a), who said their aim was to find out what was wrong with police-public relations and fix it.

    The hearings are not a vote of no confidence in the police,” Sabbe told Het Laatste Nieuws. “At worst, we are heading for a warm summer in which many young people cannot travel abroad. That will require a lot of effort from everyone, including the police. If they act too tough, you have a recipe for even more riots.”

    The parliament will establish an agenda for the hearings on June 2, as well as a list of experts they would like to hear. That will include sociologists, criminologists, members of the Comité P which oversees police operations, victims of police violence and others, Sabbe said.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times