Twenty six Isuzu DMax pickup trucks were officially handed over to the Belize Police Department this morning through the US Embassy. The almost two million Belize dollars were drawn from the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) Program. According to the Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Elodio Aragon Jr the vehicles were handed over at an opportune time.
“To a large extent it’s coming at a right time, I think we have this Christmas operation it will go a long way to support our police men and women on the ground. Likewise I do think that it boosts our department’s capabilities, at the end of the day it’s all about responding to crime, having the mobility will do just that to improve our response in dealing with incidents and reports and calls from the public. We are glad today to be able to receive these 26 vehicles and we look forward to putting them to good use. These vehicles are worth $1.6 million dollars from the United States from the CARSI program. The CARSI program has invested throughout the the time they have been here in Belize millions of dollars in all facets whether it be the legislature, whether it be dealing with the forensic department we have gotten equipment that came from CARSI. There is a lot of other investment they have made in the police department and it’s not only the police department. Their program is not only focused on law enforcement, in the Coast Guard, in dealing with the BDF, in dealing with NGOs so all that money encompasses the overall thing in training the GREAT program in the police department so to a large extent the support we get from CARSI goes towards all these initiatives so it’s not only the police department but getting $1.6 million dollars in vehicles which equate to 26 vehicles is a big boost for the department and we welcome such things.”
Ambassador to Belize for the United States, Carlos Moreno spoke of why the CARSI donation was made in the form of vehicles and how their use and effectiveness will be monitored.
“Everything we do in the CARSI program like this particular project really is years in the planning. This took about two years and that planning starts with a collaboration between INL at the embassy and the police department, the police department presents to us a list of priorities for them. In this particular case those priorities were determined on a rational almost scientific basis. It’s based on areas in Belize that need more attention and more patrols and we get that data from a program called COMSTAT that kind of derives what the crime issues are in particular neighborhoods. We also look at particular programs like forensics and other areas of Belize where we might need particular vehicles assigned for that particular task; so it’s based both on geography as well as the function that the police have assigned to these vehicles. Once that is done then we proceed with the whole budgetary process and acquiring the vehicles, putting the proposals out to bid and so forth. So what you see here today is really the culmination of a couple years of planning. It doesn’t happen overnight and once the vehicles are here they have to be equipped with various accessories like the lights and sirens, the tracking devices, the cameras and so forth they really are part and parcel in what goes into a police motor vehicle.”
According to Ambassador Carlos Moreno says that there is a monitoring system in place for all donations ranging from vehicles, equipment and other devices.
“Yes those are in the hands of the police department and we hope that for example the tracking devices are able to monitor, where and when the vehicles are being used. So if a vehicle is assigned to a particular district the tracking devices will tell the commissioner of police that the vehicle has remained within the confines of that district and yes with respect to any transfer of property annually INL seeks to determine where that piece of equipment is, how its being maintained and so forth. It could be recording equipment, it could be related to the police and it could be the vehicles themselves so there is an annual inventory that is done to make sure that what has been transferred is still in the custody of the police and a report is then issued to the state department that yes these items of property are being used for the intended purpose for which they were approved.”
Of the fleet of the 2017 trucks, thirteen will be for Belize City while the other half will be distributed around the country.