An official report on the 2019 crime statistics is expected to be released tomorrow by the Belize Police Department. While majority of the homicides were by gun violence, Commissioner Williams noted that there were two major contributing factors to the murders, including the consumption of alcohol; an issue he plans to target.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “When we release our crime statistics to you all hopefully on Wednesday we will be categorizing the different murders to illustrate what was the number one cause of murder and you will see that alcohol is extremely dominant. There is a reason why alcohol was once an illegal substance, it is because people know of the effect that alcohol can have on one and so when it was legalized it was done and regulated and there is a reason why it was regulated, again because people know of the effect of alcohol. Well we continue to live in a society that sells and consumes alcohol as if it is not a drug then we are out for destruction. We are going to continue to push on alcohol sale and consumption. We’re not saying it is to be banned, that would be the ideal thing, but we cannot tell people how to live so the least we can do is to ensure that the laws that have been put in place to ensure that alcohol is regulated properly, that the Liquor Licensing Board respects the law where that is concerned and ensure that when liquor licenses are issued or extensions are issued that it is done in conformity with the law. And so we want to ensure again that we make the call upon the different Liquor Licensing Boards across the country to work with us with a view to see how we can make our country safer.”
Coupled with the consumption of alcohol, Police Commissioner says domestic violence was also a major issue last year that in some cases, led to murders. Williams says this is an area he will be working on in the coming months.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “The next leading cause after alcohol was domestic situation and again we’re going to continue to push on addressing domestic violence. We’ll also be looking at the gang issue because while for 2019 it is the lowest number of gang murders we have had since 2008 we still believe there is more to be done in terms of containing the gang issue. We want to see us getting on board a conflict officer or a gang intervention officer, if we can get that person on board to work with us, and I already have a person in mind, and then that person can then work between us and CYDP to see how we can deal with the different gang issues with a view to further take down the gang related murders, and then we want to look at partnering with different organizations as I said in my New Year’s address we want to establish a citizen advisory committee and we want that committee to have members of the different government organizations as well as the churches, civil society, and any other person who is of good standing to serve as an advisory board to the police where they can look at ways and means as to how we can deal with certain crime related issues as well as to be able to help the police to lobby for equipment and things that are needed to ensure that we are adequately equipped to fight the crime situation. And I think that once we get those things going for 2020 we will have a much better year than we did for 2019. We’re not going to sit on our laurels and complain but rather we are going to stand up, we’re going to be resilient and we’re going to face the crime situation head on with a view to see how we can bring it down even further for 2020.”