There is a spike in crimes and gun violence, but there will be no state of emergency or curfew, at least not yet. According to the Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa such actions will be a last resort. Meanwhile Police Commissioner Chester Williams spoke on the resurgence of violent crimes and issued a warning to the criminals.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I was up late last night with the good OC Eastern Division dealing with the issue in the St.Martin’s area. This morning I convened a meeting with Mr.Rosado and his commanders to chart the way forward in terms of how we’re going to address the spike of gun violence in the St.Martin’s area. As you had seen there are several videos circulating on Social Media depicting the efforts of the police in that area with a view to try to quell the tension between the rivaling gangs and as the Minister has said I joined him in saying that from the looks of those videos it is clear that the police officers exercise great restraint and I must commend Mr.Rosado because he was the one who was leading that team that you saw on those amateur videos. Now while yes it is the plan of the government to have a more softer approach to addressing crimes or for the police on a whole it is not to say that the police officers must appear to be impotent or sterile. The police officers must still manifest the ability to be able to take a grip of the crime situation as they manifest themselves. And so I have directed my officers this morning that we need to go back at the criminals and let them understand that while yes we’re going to have a softer approach if it is that they want to continue to behave in such a way that they want to hold the people of the city hostage or to put fear in people then the police cannot allow that to happen and so the police have been told to go out and do your job. Now we don’t want to paint everybody with the same brush so what we’ll be doing is that the intelligence people have been tasked to ensure that they gather intelligence on those persons who are actually involved in the recent spike so that we can go after those persons because the truth be told there are still a few of those gang members who for the most part are holding true to their words they’re holding the peace; we don’t want to bring them into the fray so we just want to ensure that we go after those who are actively involved in this recent spike and let them get the message that they either behave themselves if not then they’re going to feel the wrath of the police and you cannot be out there killing people, instilling fear in people and expect that the police will come with powder and lotion and powder and lotion you that is not going to work. They have to understand that we must give the citizens of this country the assurance that the police department is going to ensure that that handful of gang members do not hold the masses of us hostage in our homes or this country. So that is what I’m going to say for now.”
The recently installed Minister met this morning with the Police Commissioner Chester Williams and Attorney Kevin Arthurs who is poised to be appointed as his CEO. Following that meeting a press brief took place in the afternoon where Minister Musa briefed the media on several matters including the recent increase in crimes and the government’s approach.
Kareem Musa, Home Affairs & New Growth Ministries: ‘“In the past it was the habit so to speak, at least during the time of COVID, for there to be a declaration of state of emergency. Of course that is something that is always on the table it is not something that we will jump at at the first instance. We certainly are looking at interventions, looking at definitely applying different strategies, definitely with a different approach as we had said on the last occasion in a very respectful manner with respect to innocent civilians but certainly there are criminal elements in our society and of course in a time like this the police have to be able to do their job and I think that the public will be understanding if it is that the criminal elements who are wanted, who are suspected to be involved if they are not cooperating with the police department I am not in any way saying that the police will come down heavy on them but the reality is being a police officer is a very tough job. The Commissioner of Police is not doing this for the likes you know. He’s not doing this for the Facebook likes and the media likes it’s a very tough job, a lot of people out there don’t like the style and the approach of the Belize Police Department but at the end of the day it is the toughest job right now and so I don’t in any way envy the Commissioner he’s sitting in a very hot seat and likewise myself now inheriting this seat it’s a hot seat no doubt but I am young, I am energetic, I look forward to the challenge but more than anything else like I said it’s regrettable and my heartfelt condolences to all those family members who lost their loved ones and especially those innocent civilians, innocent citizens who have zero involvement. Any sort of criminal activity whatsoever we have a couple of them who lost their lives and so it’s a terrible situation and definitely like I said we will be employing strategies but it’s not our immediate knee jerk reaction to go to a state of emergency.”