Recently, there was a confrontation between police officers and Belize City residents caught on camera and shared on social media. While the video showed officers punching and beating the suspects, it also showed the suspects cursing at the officers and resisting arrest. It’s something that has been recorded and reported several times but it’s often overshadowed by the officers’ response and reaction. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams reminded the public that cursing at an officer is a crime. Hipolito Novelo reports.
They shout, kick, scream and resist arrest. Every year cell phone footage of confrontations between the police and the public surface- the recent being in Belize City when a group of young men was arrested and thrown behind the police pickup truck. Things got heated and calls for reform followed.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “One of the buzzwords is police reform and I do agree that we need to do some sort of reform with the police.”
But how much can police officers take when they are being cursed at? Shouted at? Insulted and threatened?
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Police reform is not going to solve our problem if the society does not reform themselves as well because you find that many a times the police is reacting to how the public is treats them. Now I would always say to police officers that we are the professionals and we must not diminish ourselves to the behavior of those who are not trained the way we are.”
And while officers try to remain professional and keep their composer, they are only humans who come under heavy and sustain attack by groups of people.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “People have to understand that as police officers we are human beings too and we are amendable to the same weaknesses that the ordinary members of the public are amendable to. So my thing is that I’ve always said to police officers if it is that a person obstructs you, they curse at you when you’re doing their job then you arrest them. We do not beat you, we don’t do that. The law empowers us to arrest you and that is what we must do. So when it happens I don’t expect to see police officers beating on people I expecting to see police officers arresting you. Even if it requires that that you leave and you come back later on pick them up when they’re not in that group then do that. They’re still going to understand.”
But people resist arrest even though they know they are in the wrong. They resist arrest until officers become impatient.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The public needs to understand that the police have a job to do and many a times when we see these cases where they’re alleging police brutality the arrested person would have been cooperating with the police but when the crowd or the mob comes out in support of the person being arrested then that person begins to act out and they begin to curse the police, they begin to assault the police and they expect that the police must do nothing, it cannot be. We have to understand that as a society we are a country of law and as such we must leave the police to do their work. When you obstruct the police you commit an offence, when you use obscenity at the police you commit an offence, when you assault the police you commit an offence and you should be dealt with for those.”
Reporting for Love News, I am hipolito Novelo.