Another matter of concern, which by extension we have learned also involves the police association, is the matter of transport for officers. The eight hour shifts are in effect but officers have expressed concerns that the shift is now posing problems with getting home. It is of note that many officers commute to and from Belize City. When asked today, the Compol said transportation is not the department’s problem.
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams: “How would it throw a wrench in it? From the time of the memorial, Police officers have been working a nine hour shift system. The twelve hours came into effect in 2012 which is just a couple years ago. One of the things that we used to face is that the Government used to pay the Police $145 a month housing allowance. Officers found it then to be difficult to rent where they work and so what the Government did was increase the housing allowance to $300 per month to be able to help officers to rent where they work and despite that there still have some officers who refuse to move to develop and rightly so they have that choice but at the end of day the Government of Belize and the Police Department have no obligation to provide transportation to officers to and from work. Yes if it is that it is something that I may want to do I can but I am under no obligation and officers need to understand that. If it is that they want the Housing allowance be taken away and then the money be used for transportation then we can go with that but you cannot have your cake and eat it. Truth be told the eight hour shift system is far better than the twelve hours. Do you know that they had many officers found sleeping in these gang ridden areas with firearms on them. It is a disaster waiting to happen and it is about time that we be able to address it. How long must we continue to see our officers putting their lives at risk, sleeping in these gang ridden areas, not being able to get any kind of workout, being sick and when you have an officer who comes off work at 7 AM that lives in Corozal: he doesn’t get home until around 10, 11 and by 1,2 he has to be up again to catch the bus to come. What rest is he getting? He is not getting any and compare that to when he is getting off at seven. He does not have to go to work again until 11 in the night. You get home around 10, 10:30, you can sleep right through and leave Corozal around eight o’clock to be here for 11. It is more conducive to the body, it is more conducive to work. The question is, When you work twelve hours is the public getting value for money? And the answer is no.”
But on January 23rd, Deputy Commissioner Edward Broaster in an interview with the media stated that they would provide that service to the officers.
DCP Edward Broaster Commander of Operations & Crimes: “He also briefed them that he would be making available transportation for the officers who traveled too and from the west so that they would refrain from hitchhiking which again poses another threat to officers safety. We have arrangements with service providers in terms of transporting officers to the north too and from Belize City so that is set as well, we will find the budget to deal with that. As a matter of fact I know that we will be acquiring some vehicles shortly and two of those vehicles will be minivans which one will deal with the transportation of the officers too and from the west.”
Of note is that the Association had written to the commissioner expressing the concerns brought forward surrounding the eight hour shifts. ////