SIMPSON BAY--Two out of a group of four Police Aux Frontiers (PAF) officers from French St. Martin were asked by police officers of St. Maarten Police Force to go back to French St. Martin after they were found to have firearms in their possession at SXM Princess Juliana International Airport on Wednesday morning.
The French officers were at the airport in the process of having someone deported. They were asked if they had any permission through the Ministry of Justice to carry their weapons on the Dutch Side. The officers immediately denied having any permission and decided to immediately return to the French side with their weapons, because they did not have the necessary clearance to have their weapons on the Dutch Side.
After finalising the deportation process of the person they brought to the airport, the investigating officers escorted the French officers to their vehicles, which were parked in front of the terminal building.
They noticed that during their absence unknown people had punctured one of the tires of each of the vehicles they were driving. The detectives were immediately informed and arrived at the scene to investigate the situation. After having the tires replaced the officers were escorted the border.
Police officers of either side of the island can only take their firearms to the other side of the island if that has been approved in advance. That was not the case with the PAF officers. The incident was resolved in a friendly manner and the officers left without further problems, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson stated in an invited comment.
Richardson stated that he didn’t want the incident to be pulled out of proportion and said he had requested a meeting with the Préfet later this week to have a discussion, to ensure that the situation does not escalate.
Police chief Peter de Witte was also aware of the situation. “There have been a few small incidents recently, including the incident on St. Maarten Day,” he said. “They were minor incidents. On the whole, we have a very good working relationship with the French authorities. On police level, we will also have a meeting to ensure that both sides are aware of the rules that apply. I am sure that will resolve the matter, and we can continue our good working relationship as we have done before.”