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Compol of Police Says Crime has Been Down for First Half of the Year

Police Commissioner Chester Williams provided an analysis on the crime rate in Belize for the past six months. In his in-depth explanation today on The Morning Show, the Commissioner noted that it would be difficult to make a realistic comparison with the 2020 figures due to the pandemic and the lockdown.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “We’re policing in extremely difficult times and when we compare 2021 to 2020 it is also going to be an unfair comparison for the simple fact that for the most part of 2020 we had several lockdowns. We had the gangs that were locked down for three months from I think it was April, May and June and then we also had the countrywide lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic and so for the most part of 2020 we were under states of emergencies and we had countrywide lockdowns. And so when you have a countrywide lockdown the chances of persons committing crime becomes really minimal as opposed to this year when we have not had any lockdown and so when we look at our stats for this year if we try to compare it to 2020 we’re making an unfair comparison to ourselves and so I think that 2019 would be a better area. Even for 2019 we did have some gang lockdowns but I still believe that we could compare fairly with 2019. You’ll find that the crime rate is going to fluctuate. So the fact that we had a very good year last year it is going to be extremely difficult to beat last year’s number but I do not see it as being difficult to beat 2019 figures and so we are going to measure ourselves yes using last year but we’re going to look at 2019 as the main year by which we can truly make a comparison.”

As for the rate in major crimes for 2021, the Police Commissioner says the first few months were relatively peaceful until the gun violence broke out in the month of May.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “For this year we are doing pretty well and when May came we took a shellacking because for the month of May we saw a significant increase in crimes particularly in homicide or murders where we had I think it was a total of 19 murders for the month of May. And so while we had a significant reduction up to the end of the first quarter May erased all those gains that we had made. But again we went through the month of June, we did what we needed to do in terms of addressing some of the reasons behind the crime and the month of June was pretty good. June may have balanced us back in terms of our numbers but rime will always be and as a department what we need to do is to ensure that we continue to strategize. Even though we have a national crime fighting strategy sometimes we have to go outside of that due to certain situations that may aris. And so as a department we try to be as flexible as we can, we try to be as pragmatic as we can because the dynamics of crime is really and truly changing. With the fact that we are in a pandemic and I was listening to the talk show before I arrived and I was hearing about the whole issue of poverty when we have a poverty crisis that itself will lend to the increase of crime and violence in any nation. So it is tough for us but we will not complain, we will do what we need to do. We will continue to dialogue with the different stakeholders who have been there with us, we continue to dialogue with the street guys we continue to see how we can help in employment for them. You are part of the Stake Bank project Troy and you’d know that through that project we have gotten employment for a number of these young men and we’re trying to see what we can do to continue to get some of them employed.:”

The Police Commissioner went on to say that burglaries are a major part of the crime statistics.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “When you look at the issue of crime one of the most prevalent crimes that we’re seeing is the issue of burglaries and when it comes to burglaries and so forth the public does have a lot to play in terms of mitigating the occurrence of these crimes because often times the burglaries occur due to negligence of the home owner. Sometimes you think that you live in such a quiet and peaceful neighborhood and you just don’t have regards to any security measures and they leave their homes open, they’ll leave it improperly secure and that gives access to these burglaries. And again when we have a society where the people can galvanize themselves and form different groups like neighborhood watch groups that too can help to prevent crimes such as burglaries. Remember the whole issue of violent crimes in Dangriga and Punta Gorda Town we were seeing in the earlier part of this year where the gang issue in those two districts we really and truly manifesting themselves and so we had to step aside from Belize City, not fully, and focus a bit on the south to see what we could have done to mitigate the occurrence of these heinous crimes in the south and I must say that since we di d that we have seen significant reduction in terms of these violent types of crime but we still understand that we’re still not out of the woods. The gang members are still living in Dangriga they’re still living in Punta Gorda Town and so as a police department we have to continue to stay on top of our game so as not to give them that opportunity they so seek to be able to commit their crimes. So we look at for example Mr.Rosado had to complain almost on a daily basis he’s still complaining because I had to pull resources out of Belize City to give to the south and with that he found himself short in numbers and you’d know that Belize City is extremely difficult to police because of the cluster nature of the gangs that live in the city. But we have to find a way how we can strike a balance and I believe that we continue to do well in Belize City despite the fact that you said 1%. If you compare 1% this year to last year we’re doing pretty well.”