Police Commissioner Chester Williams has announced the promotion of Assistant Superintendent Fitzroy Yearwood to the post of Director of Communications in the office of the Commissioner of Police. Assistant Superintendent Yearwood will now be responsible for all interactions with the media. The public relations post is not new to Assistant Superintendent Yearwood as he had served as the Police Department’s Public Relations officer for the period February 2010 to October 2012. The move within the department comes at a time when the Police Commissioner came under scrutiny for divulging too much information in the Jasmin Hartin case. So while Yearwood says that he is happy to be back on the job, the media asked him if this is a move to muzzled Police Commissioner Chester Williams.
ASP. Fitzroy Yearwood, Public Relations Officer, Belize Police Department: “I have always been a media person so to speak and it’s just coming back to what I love doing to explain to the general public in a more palatable fashion as to things that may affect their lives. I wouldn’t call it sudden because as you know as a media personality you’re always ready to come back to what you love. And thanks for welcoming me back and I hope that our relationship remains very strong and of course I’m always available. The Commissioner is the person that made that call. He’s the person that personally came to me and asked me to do it. I don’t believe it’s muzzling and like I said he will do his appearances but he is saying that it’s getting overwhelming and he has other duties other than addressing media related questions. So he made that call and I welcomed the idea and I’m here.”
Speaking on this matter and in general was the former Minister of National Security, Michael Peyrefitte, who told Love News that there are times where too much information to the media could possibly hamper the prosecution of cases within the court.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman/ Former Minister of National Security: “When I was Minister of National Security I tried my very best to allow the security forces to operate independently. We would discuss policy, we would discuss the overall direction of the Coast Guard, BDF and police but the internal day to day matters I would say I left it to the professionals since they were people who knew what they were doing. My personal opinion yes I think there’s too much information coming from police. Belize is one of the few countries if not the only country in the world where crime is news. I know the old adage of if it bleeds it leads but I think that when things happen the first thing you do is you remain quiet and you let the investigation take its course. I think this constant constant bombardment of information from the police to the media and the public is not good for investigations. To me it’s not good for curbing crime, it’s not good for prosecution and overall not good for the society itself. One of the intelligence information that we got when I was National Security Minister was that it was a notch in the belt for certain criminals when it appeared on the news that a particular person was killed. So you would have a particular gang figure or a particular criminal who would be shot it was actually a right of passage for the person who committed that crime if it appeared on the news. So when we show these matters on the news over and over like that it gave the criminals a sense of pride as if to say “This was my work. Look at it, it’s on TV.” and I think an approach needs to be taken where these criminals cannot take pride in their work so to speak, they cannot take pride in their criminal activity. It’s like if you notice on tv during sporting events during baseball games, world series for example some people at various times would parachute into the stadium just so that they could get some attention. The way the sports franchise is in the states they don’t show the person, they don’t focus on that because if you don’t show them making a fool of themselves then they will be discouraged from doing it because they don’t have the popularity that they thought that they would have gotten from it. I think that we need to be more meticulous, more careful and more discreet in how we cover crime because whenever a crime occurs we have to solve it and we have to bring the perpetrator to justice. So I would like to see personally a scaling back of all this information that’s given to the public whenever a crime occurs.”