In the wake of recent murders, the United Democratic Party says that it is time for a multi-faceted approach to reducing and solving crime. Former Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Elodio Aragon Junior yesterday outlined what he says are failures. Today, Prime Minister John Briceno outlined some of the priorities of his administration on this important front.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “We realize that the issue of crime is not something that can be addressed overnight. It’s going to take some time and we have to attack crime from different angles. Yes we have to go after the criminals and right now the commissioner has been talking to some of these so called gang leaders and trying to get them to hold it down and try to calm down everything but they seem to be on a death wish they’re just out there going after one another and as much as we want to protect them if you don’t want to protect yourself it’s almost like the commissioner is almost saying ‘help me’ as we patrol one street and as the patrol leaves they come out and they do. So I think that along with the minister they’re looking at probably having a more harder approach in that small geographic area of Belize City that this is taking place to be able to calm things down.”
For his part, Aragon added that because the department’s work is a dynamic one, answering the call to protect and serve must include meaningful leadership and direction and an approach which includes improved intelligence gathering.
Elodio Aragon: “Like I tell you there’s no quick fix for crime and that happens all across the country but you must be able to do something. The department is not just there to report to work on and off and that’s it and whatever happens happens. No you must have direction, you must have leadership and at this point in time the PUP shows no solutions, no leadership in tackling the situation right now in the streets of this country. What needs to be done is to be worked on the systems that exist in the police department. When you look at intelligence gathering very key to solving and preempting the situation that exists in this country. When you talk about gang rivalry and gang situation man everybody in the intelligence section knows exactly who are the perpetrators, who are the people involved in crime in this country. This country is small you have to empower that intelligence gathering branch to be able to do its job properly. When you look at operationally the people on the ground you talk about the use of justifiable force and harm , when you talk about them needing to be operational and talking about justifiable force and harm these things come with training. When you talk about training at the academy for instance, recruitment, all of these things have to be done. There’s so much that has to be done in terms to ensure the police department are fully capable to do its job but it comes with leadership and political will. And I won’t sit here and say the UDP couldn’t have done a better job, of course there’s always room for improvement but I will attest to this that the UDP DID what was necessary to deal with the crime situation at that time.”