Police using tint meter in controls

Police deployed a new weapon in their most recent Operation Trust 2 controls on Wednesday: a meter able to gauge the amount of light that passes through the tinted film on car windows.

At least, it appeared to be a new weapon, as residents had not seen police using a device to measure tint opacity when the Operation Trust 2 controls were revived last week.

The TM-200 tint meter inspector drew media representatives to a Cay Hill control on Wednesday that saw police and Customs officers again stopping motorists as they looked for various traffic violations such as excessive window tint, uninsured vehicles or unlicensed drivers.

Police have also arrested several undocumented residents during their controls that began at the end of November 2008, but were revived and ramped up last week Monday with the arrival of officers from Curaçao.  

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Police could not be reached for comment about the TM-200 unit on Wednesday. The meter retails for $165 online, and manufacturers and dealers claim it is a high-accuracy gauge for light transmission through glass with as little as a three per cent plus-or-minus margin of error.

But Windward Islands Chief Prosecutor Taco Stein said police were always in the right to remove tint that motorists apply on their own. Legally, according to Stein, only factory-spec or dealer-applied tint is legal, because "it should adhere to standards."

Police came under fire as recently as this weekend when Island Councilman and Member of Parliament (MP) William Marlin questioned the legality of tint checks without a light-measuring "gadget," as he phrased it. The National Alliance (NA) leader said he would take the matter up with top police authorities in St. Maarten and in the Willemstad seat of the Netherlands Antilles.

It is not known whether the device was bought recently or had been in stock, but not put in use.

Operation Trust 2 is an open-ended series of traffic, immigration and "general" controls that will see many more police on the streets.