Belgian police have issued a call for ‘mutual respect’ for the force in an open letter sent as the debate on police violence and structural racism continues in Belgium.
Lately, the police have been associated with violence and racism by some, which is an unjustified generalisation, according to the letter.
“But no matter how dissatisfied we can and must be, let us not lapse into the generalisation, or the unsubtle transposition of what is happening elsewhere, to our country and our police organisation, its functioning and its employees,” the letter, which was written top police officials, reads.
The current context and attitude can incite physical or verbal violence against police and fellow citizens. “This is inappropriate and unacceptable, just like unwarranted use of coercion or inappropriate statements by the police is,” they continue.
In the letter, the police stress that they are also held accountable by authorities and various control bodies. “Also with regards to racism. We want to make it very clear: there is no structural problem of racism within the police,” they wrote.
“Racist statements and behaviour do not belong to the police and individual cases are dealt with by judicial or disciplinary action,” they said, adding that they want to listen to external actors to make sure everything can be discussed.
“Let this letter be an invitation to face today’s and tomorrow’s context with mutual trust, serenity and respect for each other. Together,” the letter concludes.