The Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Kareem Musa took a tour of the main Police precincts in Belize City. Musa was sworn in as the Minister yesterday and has already begun his rounds around the departments that fall under his portfolio. Musa has plans from furthering education for his officers as well as community outreach. Musa spoke to the media today on the other plans he has in mind.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister for Home Affairs & New Growth Industries: “It has been a very eye opening experience this morning. I got an opportunity to have a very open, frank and candid discussion with the high ranking members of the police department and it was definitely uplifting if I can say so for myself because we can see where there is a boost in morale already having somebody new as their minister. I’m not in any way throwing shade on the past minister I’m sure he did a great job as well but certainly the outlook is a positive one. We are getting a fresh opportunity, a fresh start, a new beginning. Crime in our country is extremely serious as is the COVID pandemic as is the economic crisis that we are facing and so 2020 has certainly hurled a lot of curve balls our way but we are ready and we are prepared and so I thank the Commissioner today for offering me the invitation, for extending the invitation to do a tour of the precincts. In terms of the strategy moving forward as you know part of our manifesto plan we are now the government for all not just a political party. Part of our manifesto is to increase the rank of the police department it might not be overnight but certainly in the coming years we want to take it to three thousand as an initial step and thereafter to four thousand so definitely we do need more boots on the ground because we are understaffed as is. In addition to that I believe that there has been, and I think the ComPol agrees with me on this, that we need to emphasize more the importance of community oriented policing. I believe that the police department has taken a bad rack over the years. You do have some bad apples in the bunch that may use excessive force at times, at times though we have to accept as a society that they may have been warranted in their use of force because they themselves may have come under attack so we have to understand that it’s not every instance where you see that force is used that it was excessive and so we need to categorize that and classify that but certainly moving forward the intention is and I think it is universally accepted that we need to take a more community based approach to policing, having more respect for our citizens being above board and certainly that would not just improve the morale of the police department but of the citizenry on a whole.”
Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams is now under new command and he also spoke to the mandate that the new administration plans to uphold.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The Minister met with us this morning with a view for us to be able to update the Minister as to where we are and to get from the Minister the mandate of the government in terms of where they want to take the Belize Police Department during their time in office. And as the Minister he is the policy maker along with the Cabinet and whatever policy Cabinet and the Minister brings out it is the duty of the police to ensure that that policy is taken through to fruition. And so the mandate of this government is to ensure that we push more on community policing. You’d know that I am a very huge proponent of community policing I do believe that where it is properly applied it can yield great success in terms of a crime fighting effort. And so the senior command of the department got that message this morning and within the next two weeks we should be launching our community oriented community policing manual which will outline to the commanders all that which we expect them in terms of community policing. The police cannot work in isolation of the public, we must work in tandem with each other and so it must be that we fashion what we expect the public to be able to take from us and it should not be that the public should come to us it should be that we go to the public with a view to ensure that we get them on our side.”