A police issued weapon has gone missing whilst under the care of the Hopkins Police in the Stann Creek District. In addition to that, a privately owned nine millimeter was also stolen in the incident along with eighteen (nine millimeter) LIVE rounds of ammunition. The weapons were found missing since October 8, 2015. Love News spoke with Assistant Commissioner of Police, Noel Leal of the Professional Standards Branch on the status of the internal investigation.
ACP NOEL LEAL
“As we speak, a team is down there looking into that and we will be doing an apart investigation along with the Major Crimes Unit. Depends on what the investigation is pointing to; in many cases, they have to submit what is called a Losses Form which is a loss of the property of the Government of Belize and if the investigation points to a criminal act and a perpetrator is identified, no doubt that person will be arrested and charged. Searches of houses are made on the properties and vehicles of possible suspects and things like those. From what I have heard from the team, so far, is that none of those questions have yet been answered but that is where we are going to, that is the objective, to find answers and to be able to make a conclusion or determination hopefully by tomorrow. The investigation is going and yes, there is very strong suspicion that somebody played a role in the disappearance of those firearms; so, a part of the investigation will be to detain and interview those persons. We need to get a statement from them and if needs be, if it is pointing to any indication or evidence that the person is involved then that person can be charged as well as any other process that we have to do to determine exactly what are the facts of the situation.”
According to Leal, the determination of how the costs of these weapons will be recovered is dependent on the outcome of the investigations.
ACP NOEL LEAL
“The firearms have two different owners; one is the Government of Belize, the Police Department which, if there is someone charged then at the end of the day the firearm will somehow be replaced if it is not recovered. But if it internal or neglect from the officers working there, then they will go through a disciplinary procedure for which they will be charged for the value of that weapon. They will have to pay for that weapon to the Government of Belize. The other weapon was a private firearm and I guess the result of the investigation will also dictate why or if the Police Department of the Government of Belize would compensate the owner of that firearm. We all have to wait on the result of the investigation to find the next step forward.”
The matter is also being criminally investigated by the Major Crimes Unit in Belmopan. The police issued weapon that went missing was a Witness Classic nine millimeter pistol engraved the serial code, ‘DGA 003 – Government of Belize’.