Late last week there was public outcry after a video surfaced on social media of officers attached to the Special Patrol Unit confronting a young man who had several sacks of avocados. The product was being transported from San Victor Village in the Corozal District to a vendor at the Michael Finnegan market in Belize City. At the end of the confrontation, most of the avocados were damaged. Yesterday the new Deputy Commissioner of Police told the media the situation could have been handled differently.
Chester Williams, Deputy Commissioner of Police
“Whether or not the avocado were contraband is not something I think the police were in a position to say; and for them to have done what they did in terms of taking the avocado and eventually I saw them in a drain destroyed- I think it was rather unprofessional and as such those officers must be dealt with and some effort must be made for them to compensate that young man for his products. In a situation like that, it could have been handled differently as well. If the young man- the police is trying to take the young man to the station, obviously there is nothing to suggest that he had committed a crime so he was not compelled to go with them. They could have left an officer or two there at the market, go and get BAHA or customs bring them to the market area to see the goods and if they say it is contraband then they take it and if it was not then they left it there. Or the next option could have been that they could have taken the pears, given the man a receipt that they have taken the pears and take it to customs – let customs have a look at it- again I don’t know if customs would have been able to say whether they were contraband or not I don’t know if a pear tree says that this pear was grown in Mexico and that one was grown in Belize I don’t know. But let’s say hypothetically customs would have been able to say whether or not they are contraband then if it is contraband customs would keep it, if not then the officers would have been able to take it back to the young man and given it to him.”
The vendor told the media she incurred a loss of over four thousand dollars.