Critical report published after third suicide at DSO

A third suicide in two years by an officer with the Special Investigation Service (DSO) prompted an investigation and report into the unit responsible for undercover operations. Although the findings have not been released, Minister Yesilgöz (Justice and Security) said they are compatible with prior reports, which have linked previous suicides to a harmful work culture in the unit, according to the NOS.

M., a 53-year-old agent who took his own life last August, addressed his suicide note to several people including his then-boss at the DSO, Marjolein Smit. “Know that my time at the DSO was terrible,” he wrote. “The rotten culture, the way you talked about me behind my back, the favoritism and the cadavers.”

The note was sent to a small group of recipients by a friend after M.’s death, at the request of the deceased. Doubting the authenticity of the note, police leadership launched a confidential internal investigation. This was criticized by the two largest police unions, who believed an independent investigation should have been launched immediately.

Meanwhile, an independent investigation was taking place into another, previous suicide within the DSO. The resulting report found that undercover agents’ mental wellbeing was often neglected, and concluded that the previous suicide by an undercover agent was a direct result of his workplace.

This investigation was conducted by mayor and former public prosecutor Oebele Brouwer. He was then asked to investigate M.’s suicide and ultimately spoke with everyone concerned, except for M.’s former boss Marjolein Smit. Smit chose to send a written statement only.

The findings of this investigation are being kept confidential. However, “the learning points for the organization correspond to the previous reports,” the Yesilgöz wrote to the Tweede Kamer at the beginning of this month.

After speaking with those involved, NRC reported that the latest report is even more damning toward the unit. Its findings, among other things, show leadership neglected to inform M.’s relative about the full circumstances surrounding his death and the unit exhibits an overall lack of care for its undercover agents.

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