Among the many issues discussed with Minister Julius Espat was the recent killing of 14-year-old, Laddie Gillett. The young man and his adoptive family resided in the Cayo South constituency for many years. As the Area Representative, Espat exhibited an upset over the situation and told Love News that the members of the public need to decide once and for all what it is that they want. He says that a stand needs to be taken on issues such as this.
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “Anyway you look at it it’s a sad situation. We have to get to the bottom of it. Cabinet is looking at it in detail to see what we can do. It’s never a good thing when you have a young person, especially somebody that, that is not being raised by their biological parents, and the families that have taken care of them and gone through, you know how difficult it is to bring somebody into your family. It doesn’t only affect Cayo South the young man was living in Chaa Creek also, he is well known. He was a lovable child as far as I am being informed. My heart goes out to everybody involved. We have to look at how everybody runs this nation. The police officers need to make sure that they follow their regulation. I was reading a regulation that says that under no circumstance should a police officer shoot anybody that’s fleeing the scene of a crime it’s specific in their way of handling weapons. So it’s not like it’s something that they are not knowledgeable of it’s their written you should not use your firearm to shoot anybody that’s fleeing the scene of a crime, and I don’t even know if this child was fleeing any crime scene, but just to give you an example that there are specific things. And that’s why I get annoyed when people look at one specific issue and try to generalize it, we have to fix not only the people that represent us in parliament we have to fix the people that represent us in the police department, at the immigration, at the customs, everywhere that we have public servants the level has to rise. Corruption is there all over the place. We have to deal with it, but when we deal with it everybody jumps on us ‘Oh this wrong, you’re affecting my rights, you’re affecting how I look.’ it has nothing to do with the personalities, it has to do with good governance, it has to do with how will we better this nation for all. And so, I think in the future we have to go right back to how do we hire police officers, what kind of training do we give them what kind of support do we give them. What, what are we telling them ?”-
Minister Espat went even further by condemning the use of camouflage outfits by members of the Belize Police Department and far better training upon recruitment.
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “Remember I used to always quarrel that I don’t think a police officer should be wearing a camouflage fatigue, because by wearing a camouflage fatigue, it gives them the mentality that they’re there to to kill. Because it’s a different concept being a soldier and being a police officer. I still believe that. And I think we will get there, but people have to understand that our police officers also are the ones that are there to protect us. So there has to be a balance, but we have to deal with it seriously. We have too many – it’s when people get in this concept that they are powerful ‘Oh they are a minister, Oh they’re a CEO, Oh they are police.’ they feel and they act differently, they believe that they are above people. I come from a different school of thought I think we are here to serve. We should be more humble than anybody else because we were given a golden opportunity to make decisions. And that’s why I believe we should be the best of the best, and not the worst of the worst. We have been led for too long by the worst of the worst and so I think we need to change that.