The Ministry of Home Affairs is today holding the first quarter COMSTAT meeting. These discussions, which have been happening for the past seven years, are geared at helping the department better strategise its fight against crime. Minister Kareem Musa spoke more about it today.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “It is a very important tool in policing. As a matter of fact, I would go even further to say it is a weapon in crime fighting strategy, because what we do is that we review the statistics over the first quarter to see where it is that crime is happening, who is committing these crimes, and we certainly then make adjustments in our strategy to focus on these areas and to come up with new and innovative ways including the use of technology to better our crime fighting strategy. So it is a very important exercise and I’m very honored to be here with the, all the members of the police department, the high ranking members of the police department. So it is a very transparent and a very accountable session because everybody has to come forward and inform the commissioner and the Ministry of what has been going on, so that we can make the necessary adjustments.”
Reporter: Minister, how do you take these statistics and use it to tackle crime moving forward where these statistics fit into the larger crime strategy.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “Well, let me say this the ComStat conference is something that has been going on now for seven years in Belize and what we are seeing now is based on the numbers from last year, in terms of violent crime. And last year, if you would recall, was a record year. I think Commissioner if I’m not mistaken, we haven’t had these low numbers as far back as 2014; that was the last time we had these low numbers in terms of violent crime. And so we use these numbers in order to tailor our strategy in fighting crime, like I said, to refocus and to retool and to ramp up our presence in certain areas which would of course lead to arrests, but more importantly, lead to the deterrence of crime.”
One of the most important takeaways from the meeting was that the most violent crimes are on a downward trajectory. Police Commissioner Chester Williams commented on how that happened.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Our overall crime outlook for 2021 first quarter is far better than the overall outlook we have had all the way back to 2015. Every category of crime is down in every region. I think the only region that has an increase in murders so far this year is the western region and most of those murders occurred in the Belmopan area. As you would know when the year began we had a number of murders in Belmopan or surrounding areas of Belmopan and so the western region is up in murders but the reduction we saw in eastern division in the western region and the northern region was greater than the increase in Belmopan and so we do have a significant decrease at this time in the overall murder count. Likewise in terms of robberies and home invasions those are down as well. I think the only category of crime we have that is up is that of rape and a very slim number. The overall number of major crime reduction is somewhere around 28% compared to the same period last year. Murders is down compared to last year by almost around 30% or more than 30% so we’re doing well in those areas of crime. But again we want to emphasize to our commanders that this is no time to be tooting our horns but rather to ensure that we continue to do what we have been doing or to even do better with a view to see how we can continue to take crime down. We understand that we’re policing in challenging times when the number of persons have lost their jobs and where there is major unemployment that could also attribute to increase in crime and so we want to do what we can to keep this country as safe as we possibly can.”
Police Commissioner Chester Williams also added that on a basic level of policing, senior officers are participating more effectively.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “It has a lot to do with the police efforts. I have been as the Commissioner behind the Commanders harping to them the importance to remain on the ground, supervise the officers. We cannot administrate from a desk giving instructions. As Commanders we must be out, I myself as the Commissioner move around the country looking at what the different Commanders are doing ensuring that our crime fighting strategy is being employed with a view to achieve the results that we so desire and so we’re seeing that for the most part the Commanders are doing what they should be doing and that trickles down the lower ranks an we’re getting the results that we so expect from them.”