Police Commissioner Chester Williams says he has reasons to believe that some officers are colluding with the gang members and criminal elements. The commander was speaking with Love News Correspondent Harry Arzu in Dangriga, when he noted that these police officers are hampering the progress in fighting crime. It is a bold allegation coming from the top brass of the Police Department, that will see several officers transferred from Dangriga.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “There are a number of police officers in Dangriga who are part and parcel of the criminal activities and so I have discussed with the commander and have been furnished with a list of those police officers who we believe are involved with the different groups giving them information on police operations which have to some extent made the police in Dangriga not successful in their operations. And so what I’ll be doing is that those officers will be transferred out of Dangriga and we’re hoping to replace them with officers who are not from Dangriga. We have seen this trend where that as much as we try to accommodate officers to go and work home that when they do go and work home they become so complacent they know everybody and in terms of getting the work done it is always a no no and it is the people who suffer in the end for not getting the quality of policing they so rightly deserve. Another complaint I also received from members of the public is that they don’t trust most of the police officers again because of the fact that they believe that most of these officers are involved with the gang members and so people feel reluctant coming to the station and share any information with the police, that is a situation that we must change and it can only change by us the police ensuring that we do what needs to be done to restore that public trust and confidence that they may want to come and give the police information. And so there’s a lot that needs to be done but I want to assure the Dangriga people that my office will do the best we can. I have discussed the matter with the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth and he’s in full agreement that we must do what needs to be done to restore that sense of security for the people of Dangriga Town. I had additional meetings today with police officers particularly those involved in the field of intelligence to see what is the information on the ground that is causing the spike in gun violence and as I had said yesterday the issue is between three different groups and we know who these persons are and we are going after them as best as we can. I have also tasked the GI III’s investigative section to look at the various offences under the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act that deals with gang membership and so they are here currently looking at these different factions with a view to file charges against them for being involved in gang activities.”
As the Commissioner of Police made his rounds on his second day in Dangriga, he visited some of the known hotspots in that municipality. In one of the stops the team encountered a house riddled with bullet holes.
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: You visited a house in the New Site Area where we noticed a lot of bullet holes in that particular house. Talk to us about that experience.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: That is the home of a person who had recently migrated back to Belize from the states but apparently the house up to a few days ago was being used by one of the same persons who are believed to be involved in these different criminal activities but that person had moved out of the house when the owner subsequently returned from the US. And so I would want to believe that the persons who carried out that act may have thought that it was the previous person who was still in the house and not the owners and that was the reason why they went there. But again as you have seen that the house is pretty much riddled with bullets which goes to show that these persons have no regard for the life of others and they do have heavy fire power and so we must do what needs to be done to address it. I listened attentively to the complaints made by the Cootes where they’re alleging police brutality and I just want to say one thing to them that if it is that they want to not have the police come to them constantly then they need to leave the criminal world. So long as they are involved or are suspected to be involved in criminal activities the police will be on their trail. We owe a duty to the people of this town to keep them safe and we cannot have persons who behave in a thuggish manner believe that they can do so without being impeded or without being checked by the police. It is ironic to see that if you would listen to some of these persons who complain you would say that you know what it’s only saints that live in Dangriga but yet we have heinous crimes being committed so the question is who is committing these crimes ? And so the police have a job to do and we are not going to be perturbed by the complaints of these persons who are obviously part and parcel of what is taking place in Dangriga and again if they want to not have the police at their homes then live a crime free life, live a life that is conducive to a civil society.”
The Police Commissioner was accompanied by Assistant Commissioner of Police Marco Vidal.