If you go to a demonstration in the Netherlands, it’s good to know what kinds of police officers you can encounter: Below is an overview:
Officers in normal uniform are not often seen at demonstrations. Especially in a city such as The Hague, the police prefer to use the riot cops (Mobiele Eenheid- ME)
There are often police on mountain bikes at demonstrations. Bike police are often used to cordon off streets. Bike police in the Netherlands are trained to use their bikes as weapons. They will sometimes try to pull you over their bikes or they will form a line with their bikes to block people.
Riot Cops (Mobiele Eenheid- ME)
Riot cops are often deployed against demonstrations. They often walk along the sidelines of the demonstration and their vans ride at the front and back of demonstrations. The riot cops usually walk in “peace uniform” without helmets and shields, but it can escalate quickly. Riot cops on horses are also often present at demonstrations. They often walk behind the demonstration. Riot cops on horses are often tasked with breaking up groups by running people over.
Bratra stands for Fire and Teargas Unit in Dutch. The Bratra is a tactical unit that is specialized in opening barricades and lock-ons. At demonstrations, they are usually deployed to drive water cannons and shoot teargas, but that seldom occurs in the Netherlands.
Arrest Unit (Aanhoudings Eenheid- AE)
The arrest unit is usually deployed to arrest people during or after demonstrations. The AE operates in small groups of 5-6 people and is almost always dressed in civilian clothes. Only rarely do they wear a jacket with “police” written on it. The AE is trained in martial arts and is not afraid to use violence.