Mayor of Schaerbeek reacts to Thursday murder of police officer

Mayor of Schaerbeek reacts to Thursday murder of police officer
The scene of a stabbing incident at the Aarschotstraat in Schaarbeek, Brussels, Thursday 10 November 2022. BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

The acting mayor of Schaerbeek, Cécile Jodogne (DéFI) deplored the murder of a police officer who was attacked on Thursday in the municipality's red-light district. She denounced the lack of action taken by the Federal Government and announced additional safety measures in response.

News broke out on Thursday evening that two police officers on patrol on Rue d'Aerschot, in the city's red-light district, were attacked by a man wielding a knife.

Both policemen were wounded before the assailant was apprehended and taken into police custody. One of the officers died of his injuries.

On Friday, it was revealed that the perpetrator was on the "radicalised" list of the OCAD (the organisation responsible for threat analysis in Belgium) and had reported himself to the police station in Saint-Josse on Thursday morning, where he expressed his 'hatred' towards police officers.

He was subsequently taken to hospital to undergo psychological treatment but was later released, going on to attack the two officers later in the day.

Mayor's response

Jodogne, acting mayor of Schaerbeek, expressed her reaction to the attack in a statement in which she offered condolences to the families of the victims, "particularly the parents, brother and sisters" of the deceased officer.

She then deplored the lack of attention the Brussels-North police zone had received in recent times despite being "under tension for far too long." This has, in her view, led to a "difficult and unacceptable" situation for inhabitants.

"The tasks they have been handed go far beyond their normal missions and make up for the often denounced lack of action by federal authorities," Jodogne added. 

Must it take a murder for things to change?

Jodogne explained that on multiple occasions she had written to members of the Federal Government highlighting the dire need for action within the department. Her calls were met with "insufficient results."

As a result, the mayor called for urgent structural measures which she will evoke during a meeting with Federal Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V), the head of the Brussels-North police zone, as well as the mayor of Saint-Josse Emir Kir.

She has also agreed with Verlinden for municipal measures to be taken to ensure the safety of local residents and not disrupt the ongoing investigation.

All commercial activities, whether in the hospitality sector, night shops, betting agencies and most critically prostitution, will have to close tonight between 01:00 and 06:00.

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