Despite recent incidents LIU still seeing more success than failures says Director

Despite recent incidents LIU still seeing more success than failures says Director

In early 2021, the Leadership Intervention Unit, LIU, was established to use mediation and economic opportunities to combat gang violence. While the unit has enjoyed some success, there have been many incidents where those enrolled at the LIU were either the victims of crime or charged for committing crimes. Two recent examples were the January 19 stabbing of sixteen-year-old Clifford Thomas, and twenty-year-old 20-year-old, Jahleel Isiah Craig being charged with aggravated assault with a firearm yesterday. Director of the LIU, Dominique Noralez says that, despite incidents like these, the program has seen more successes than it has failures.

Dominique Noralez, Chairperson, Leadership Intervention Unit:“I think what is important for us to mention is that the young men whose names end up in the news, young men or young women whose names end up in the news, are not the majority of our beneficiaries in our program. I think what we have to do is ensure that those who need a bit more support and a bit more hand-holding get that support but by and large many of our beneficiaries are doing quite well. They’re doing their best. They’re coming to our office. They trust our process. They participate in our mediations. They participate in our social programs, particularly the Peace Cup that is happening right now. And so while there are a few of them who may need a bit more support, I think by and large the program is doing well given the large number of our beneficiaries that are also doing their best to stay on the right track. But the mediations continue. The police intelligence continues to inform our work but also that is of course embraced by the social and humanistic approach that we use because the LIU is not a police program we’re not a security program we’re a peace-building program and those two things are quite different but they do work together and so I am very grateful for the collaboration we have the Belize Police Department but also that of the Department of Youth Services and other partners who have been doing phenomenal work with supporting the work of the LIU and our beneficiaries directly.”

Noralez took over as the Director of LIU back in June last year, following the passing of former Director William Dawson. Noralez says that, six months into the role, there are various challenges one of which has been to build on Dawson’s legacy while carving a name for herself.

Dominique Noralez, Chairperson, Leadership Intervention Unit: “The challenges of our many, and we can categorize them, I think the first is transitioning into the role as a public servant. There are some things that you simply can’t learn unless you’re in the thick of things. And so learning the role as a public servant is quite difficult. I think also moving and trying to create fruitful partnerships. I often tell people that I am not in the business of meeting with people just to meet with people’s sake because I am not in the in the field of creating a narrative. I want to ensure that we’re actually having fruitful partnerships and doing the work. And so making sure that I am not too concerned about the public relations of doing things but ensuring as well that opportunities like this to give interviews and talk about the LIU and the work we do are important. But I want to ensure that my face and voice is just not on the TV for being on the TV sake. I want to ensure that my time is dedicated to the people who need who need the support the most. Quite often people think that I live in the shadow of William I think that’s very much inaccurate. I am thriving off the spirit, just the giant spirit that this man had and that still really holds a lot of weight with our program beneficiaries because they trusted him. They trusted him with their lives in very many instances and so using the strength of that spirit is quite important to me and making sure that I make the role my own as well because I can never be William Dawson. I very often say that I am not William Dawson and I had the great privilege of meeting him a couple of times on my visits home from university and now I get to work with a phenomenal youth development worker in the person of his, just happens to be his younger brother, Andrew Dawson. And so, you know, making sure that we keep the relationships, that we nurture the relationships that Mr. William Dawson built but also create new ones that are inspired by his vision and made better and advanced by the collaborative work of our multi sectoral program.”

Police Commissioner Chester Williams, has stressed that LIU members are not given any special treatment and will face consequences if they commit crimes while a part of the unit.

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