The State of Emergency declaration saw fifty one men incarcerated in early September as part of police’s efforts to reduce the gun violence and crime wave that were plaguing the city streets. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams in his address to the media, noted that the men would be held for 30 days at the Belize Central Prison. The 30 days expired yesterday and last night just before eight o’clock, members of the Gang Suppression Unit were at the prison with a bus and two vans to collect these men. The pick-up went without incident as all of the men were taken to the police station on Queen Street where Williams along with Dianne Finnegan of the Youth Apprenticeship Program, Head of the GSU, Andres Makin and his deputy, Samuel Bonilla had addressed the men on the way forward. Finnegan who has been very much involved in the intervention program with these criminal elements told Love News that the men’s demeanor was positive.
Dianne Finnegan: “Motivational session, the intervention was basically to plant food for thought for them to understand that it’s one month today but if you continue along that path then the measures will step up; are you prepared for that ? What has this one month being incarcerated taught you? What is your next step from here ?”
Reporter: “There may have been people out of fifty one who had jobs, they may had lost that employment for example, it’s not an easy thing to just disappear for thirty days and go back to your office or employer ‘can I get my job back.”
Dianne Finnegan: “Some of the guys spoke about the fact that they were actually on their jobs doing their jobs when all this happened. But you see when you’ve lived a past and when you are connected to the system when you are already labelled, this is what I try to explain to them, you will forever be targets and so it’s crucial that you start walking that path, living that lifestyle that says ‘that direction is no longer one that I travel.’ And when I say that I spoke about that last night meaning go get a trip, go change your dress code, go change the circle in which you socialize. I’m positive that chester is going to address that angle where the employment is concerned.
Finnegan added in her interview that the main issue for these men was the hesitance from employers to give them work. The men were released at around nine last night following the mediation.