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Belize City divisions renamed, Police wants to eliminate stigma

It has been over three weeks that the Belize Police Department re-strategized its operations in what was formerly known as Southside Belize City. We say formerly because, as of today, the Belize Police Department has renamed that area and the Eastern Division Region 1, the Northside has been renamed to Region 2 and the rural division has been renamed to Region 3. The decision, approved by the high command of the Department, is part of the continued effort to fight crime. Now, Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that while they are aware that the move will not in itself further reduce crime, it is a step forward in eliminating the stigma that has been attached to the communities and the residents.

DCP. Chester Williams, Operations Commander: “Well from a police standpoint we know that it will not have the effect that we really want because it will take the public to remove that stigma from the head, referring to north side or south side but we believe that we can lead the way in the change by not referring to this part of the City as southside and that other side as northside so we have now renamed them and we now have eastern division region one wich was formerly known as ED South and eastern division region two formerly known as ED North, then eastern division region three formerly known as ED Rural. So we are trying to lead the way where we can begin to see that change in society where persons from southside are viewed differently than those from north side. So we are hoping that with us making the first step in that respect that we’ll begin to see other persons following and stop referring to north side and south side. Well for us it’s more than semantics rather to show the Belizean people that from a police standpoint we are no longer looking at north side south side in a different light we are now looking at both sides the same way. So we are serious about trying to see how we can change that perception where people from this side of the city are viewed differently from those from the other side of the city because afterall it is Belize City, one Belize City and we want the people from both sides of the city to be viewed in the same light.”

At the same time, the Department remains vigilant in the Eastern Division Region 1, again, formerly known as Southside.

DCP. Chester Williams, Operations Commander: “We have been ensuring that the police presence is maintained within the area so as a part of our operational strategy we try to structure it in such a way that we have coverage in this area on a twenty four hour basis. I’m not going to go into full details of our operations because I don’t want those persons who might want to take advantage to capitalize on what I say but I will just say that we are also in the area doing interventions and mediations and trying to see how we can resolve issues between those groups that were rivaling with each other and that has been very fruitful, the results have been good. Most of the young men that we have met with since we intensified our mediation intervention process have been very positive about it, they are very optimistic and they want to live like you and I to be able to move around how we want- and so they see this as an opportunity for them to be able to move around more freely within not only Belize City but across the country. So they welcome the efforts and they have pledged that they will work along with us and like I’ve always said those who don’t want to work with us then there is another avenue that we can use to deal with those persons and we are always willing to employ that avenue if the need arises.”

So far the work that has been put in the region has seen some success, further delaying the government’s intention of declaring emergency zones within the City. The Bill for that move has been drafted but the process was put on hold to see what the reconfiguration in the city would result in and so far, crime, particularly violent crimes, have seen a reduction.