Today saw the birth of a new partnership between the Police Department and the churches in Belize. As we have reported before, the department, in its efforts to curb the ongoing gun violence in Belize City, has been embarking on a number of community oriented initiatives. One of the partnerships they had been seeking was the participation of the churches. Today, that materialized as for the first time, three pastors accompanied police officers on their weekly meet and greet session in Region 1 of Belize City. We caught up with the officers and their new team members in the Jane Usher, Freedom and Louis Bevans Streets area. Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says their objective is to spread the word of God with the youth in the region.
Chester Williams, Deputy Commissioner of Police: “Many of these young men are god fearing persons and one of the obstacles they may have going to church is the fact that the church might be outside of their zones and then don’t feel comfortable leaving there zones so what we will we be doing is that whenever we invite them to church we will provide transportation to pick them up, take them to church and when church is over we drop them back within their respective areas so. They have been receptive seeing Mr. Howell Longsworth have a touch with them. It is a multi-faceted approach: one we want to encourage them to go to church, two we want to get them closer to god, three we want to them to understand that you know what the lifestyle you are living fighting with each other’s or gunning down each other is not the proper one. You can live your life without doing things like that. Try to be more positive and one of the things we are trying to show them is that positivity do takes you a long way in life rather than holding hate and anger within you so there are several things that we are looking at with a view to reach out to these young men.”
Pastor Howell Longsworth, President of the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches and Reverend David Goff told us why they support the department’s work.
Pastor Howell Longsworth: “We feel that it is very important if we join in as the Commissioner said that we want to be able to teach these young men the same thing I learn and that the success for being a better person lies within us and we are having good reaction. I am sure also when we reach out to the mothers in this program I myself am a victim of crime. My son was murdered and the family came and we are friends, we forgive the fellow who murdered our son and that family especially is a very good friend of ours. We reach out them and we want to set the example and minister to the women who have lost their loved one and do not continue to perpetrate the anger and hate that exist that allow these things to happen you see and so that is why we are happy as I said the other members, we also have partnered with the Council of Churches which are the main line churches and the Evangelical Churches together. We meet regularly with the Police and then we come up with programs in terms of how we can move forward to make a very deep impact, to make the changes in the lives of the young men and the young women of Belize and so that basically is what we are here for. We believe that indeed that this partnership will really and truly be a good fruit.”
Dalilah Ical: How committed are you to this partnership and how long do you foresee this partnership going?
Pastor Howell Longsworth: “As long as it takes, that is a part of our roles as pastors, we understand clearly that we must come out from outside the walls of the church and outreach to the areas and to build a friendship with the people so they can now trust us and so this is for life, this is what we do and we will continue to do it.”
Rev.David Goff, Methodist Church: “From the churches point of view our message is one of hope and one of peace and to say to all of Belize, in all the various neighborhoods and communities we need to come together as one people, that is the only way we are going to rescue this situation and turn it around into something positive as it should be because I believe god wants us all to learn to live together in peace and harmony and goodwill so that’s why I am here.”
The clergymen will continue to accompany the police officers on their weekly meet and greet sessions going forward.