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Police Commissioner berates NTUCB

Earlier today Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said, in other words, that the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) has no business sticking its nose in the matter between him and the Police Association. Last week the NTUCB issued a press release stating its support for the Police Association, saying it can’t fathom the members of this department being in a situation where their freedom to associate is diminished to the point where the high command of the department can make rules, change the rules and technically run or even dissolve the Association. In the police press brief today, the ComPol fired back.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I would want to say that the NTUCB, I have seen a press release by the NTUCB I have also seen Ms.Elena Smith giving an interview on the TV and they are jumping into something they have no business in. They need to understand first and foremost that the police association is not a union and if you go to our constitution it clearly states that while people can be a part of unions and so forth police and members of our security forces are forbidden from being members of unions and so they must not try to confuse the association with a union. And when you go to the police act the police act clearly tells you that the association works for the commissioner of police and they are to advise the commissioner on welfare issues other than transfers and promotions. I personally I don’t want to have a fight with anybody but at the same time I am not going to allow a person who for his own advertisement wants to defy instructions, it cannot happen. The police department is a disciplined organization, we are creatures of instruction and when an instruction is given to a member once that instruction is lawful that member is expected to comply. And so as it relates to that whole issue I am confident that at the end of the day the court is going to rule in my favor. As I’ve said before I will not do anything that I know I do not have the legal authority to do by law. This whole issue emanates over the fact that Mr.Arzu was asked to submit to the previous commissioner an audit of the association’s accounts and for what I saw where Ms.Elena Smith was saying ‘if you are not a paying member of this that.’ that is foolishness. The commissioner of police has the responsibility of looking after the interest of every member of his department from the lowest rank to the highest rank and if paying members of the association are asking the commissioner what is being done to the money that they are paying to the association the commissioner should be able to have an answer because whatever business the association ventures into should only be done with the consent or permission of the commissioner of police and if the commissioner is to give an instruction to the chairman, the chairman is expected to comply with that instruction. If you know that you are running the affairs of the association’s accounts in such a way that is lawful and you are not doing anything illegal then why are you afraid to submit an audit of the accounts ?”

On March 21, Corporal Eldon Arzu, the president of the Police Association, filed an application for permission to commence a judicial review claim against the Commissioner of Police. The claimant was asked to amend its application which will be filed by April 8 to which the respondent will have the opportunity to respond to on May 6.