The teachers were not the only ones out early this morning. Police officers were deployed at various points across the country, prepared for the teachers’ actions. Police Commissioner Chester Williams issued a note to his commanders indicating that unnecessary force should not be used against the teachers, and that if the protest is being carried out peacefully then the participants should not be approached aggressively. Commissioner Williams spoke with the media this morning in Belmopan.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The blockage did cause some inconvenience to some motorists particularly commuters who traverse the highway to go to work every morning. And from a policing standpoint our approach was to avoid any confrontation with the unions. We have seen in the past where the police have intervened in these activities and it just causes confrontation and then things get out of control resulting in the injury of persons or the damage to properties and we wanted to avert that this morning so my instructions to my officers was to ensure that we exercise great restraint. We would have done all we could to avert the blockage but in circumstances where the blockage had occurred then we would not apply any degree of force to move them instead what we would do was to maintain our presence to preserve law and order and allow the teachers or the joint unions to have their fifteen minutes of fame and as soon as the fifteen minutes was over then we would unblock the road and we go about our merry business and so that was what we did this morning.”
Commissioner Chester Williams went on to note that officers will also be out in Belmopan on Thursday and Friday for the upcoming budget debate.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “We do understand the fact that the teachers or the joint union have a week of activities they will be embarking on and again I have said to the officers we will avoid confrontation at every cost but we are going to ensure that we police the events to the best of our ability with a view to ensure that law and order is maintained and that there is no injury caused to person or damage to property. Historically the teachers have been peaceful as well as the PSU and so we don’t anticipate that they’re going to do anything that is going to put our country in a more dire financial position as we currently are. I believe they are responsible enough to ensure that whatever is done is done within the limits of the law and at the same time to not cause the government to incur further expenses to repair whatever damages that could come about as a result of their protest.”
Reporter: Will this put any strain on your resources ?
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Of course yes it is going to put strain on our resources we have to police the event and at the end of the day it is something that we cannot ignore. We have our usual policing efforts that we must do.”
As the teachers and supporters gather around the country to protest the salary cut and increment freezes, it is interesting to note that the Leader of the Opposition Patrick Faber was on vacation with his children in California, USA. Faber, who was aspiring to be Belize’s Prime Minister took to Facebook this weekend to post photos of his trip. Our newsroom has asked the Opposition Leader for interviews on several occasions over the last few weeks but our requests have gone unanswered and unacknowledged.