Officers who rank from constable to sergeant, by virtue of the Police Act, are members of the police association. That’s approximately 2,000 members that the President of the Police Association, Corporal Eldon Arzu represents. Corporal Arzu has only been in the position for less than two weeks and the issue of the working hours was one of the first concerns that he had to address. He told us that thought it was not unanimous, the vast majority of officers have embraced the new working hours.
CPL. ELdon Arzu President: “Well the association’s position is straightforward. The Commissioner of Police by virtue of the constitution he does have the authority to make changes as it relates to the shift system and so the Police officers have long been suffering from working those 12 hours duties whereby the Department has seen some of them at times sleeping whilst on duty, many of them falling ill etc. so today the meetings was just to speak face to face with the members of the Department to hear from them about the implementation of this new shift system which is the eight hour shift system.”
Reporter: “But speaking to some of the members within the Police they are saying that they are not in agreement with change in the shift.”
CPL. ELdon Arzu President: “These officers in my view was not in agreement because the information was just being circulated around without all the necessary facts and so the Commissioner today had this meeting where we highlighted to these officers of how we will assist them particularly those guys who travel up north. One of their contention was that the time that they come off which is like 11pm in the night buses are not travelling from Belize City to Corozal and so they are concerned about travelling back home whilst of duty. The Commissioner himself has promised these officers that arrangements will be made for a bus to transport them whilst coming off duty at the time and those who will be coming on duty will also have the access to the bus from Corozal to Belize. Up west he states that there will be van that will be transporting our officers from Belize to the west so that generally the point on contention in regards to these officers the fact that they would be unable to travel home when coming off duty and perhaps to come to work right around that time at 11PM. This morning we had the majority which were still of the view that the 12 hour shift should continue but with this bigger crowd this afternoon majority of them stood up supporting the change of shift. I cannot give a definite answer but from my assessment looking at the total amount of Police officers that came I do believe that the Commissioner have 75% support from the two cohorts that he met this morning and afternoon.”
The Police Association is an intermediary between the 2,000 plus members and the Commissioner of Police. The issue of the working hours was initially controversial as it was brought up by an officer Bol who wrote about it independently of the association.