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Police Department to revamp recruitment procedures and standards

A Curriculum Development Adviser has been hired to work with the Belize Police Department to improve training.  Dr Priscilla Brown was introduced to the media this morning in Belmopan.  According to the Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa the US Embassy has partnered with the Belize Police Department and will finance the initiative for the first three years.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “What we are having in terms of the initiative is a joint effort along with the US Embassy through the Charge de affaires. Of course you saw the wonderful equipment that was donated by them the funding is coming from them for that and as well you got an opportunity to meet Dr.Priscilla Brown who will now be dividing the way forward in terms of the curriculum and the training and again I had a very brief opportunity to speak with her on those three points in terms of technology, innovation and of course community policing so I look forward to seeing that type of curriculum being presented as we move forward with the next training and the next intake of officers. This is the first step in the right direction for the Belize Police Department. I don’t see how for the life of me in three years that we will go back into the stone age when in fact we are taking steps in the right direction taking advantage of technology. So you can rest assured that this will be a priority not just for this administration for any future administration because we all can appreciate the benefit of having technology and of using technology in order to fight crime. And so in three years time you can rest assured we will be finding a budget to continue with this program..”

While the standards of the Police Department have not been up to par the Police, Commissioner says there isn’t much wrong in his department and that this program is a stepping stone to modeling the police operations in Jamaica.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I would not say that we have any training that is not adequate. I believe that every aspect of our training is adequate. What the Dean of Academic Studies will be doing is to look at our curriculum and see what can be added to make the training more effective in terms of delivery and in terms of material, in terms of looking at different courses like I said we want to model what happens in Jamaica. In Jamaica they have a police college and when officers go to the police college in Jamaica whatever course they take they get accredited if they want to go to a university and that is where we want to go. We the Belize Police Department once used to send officers to train in Jamaica at very senior level to take the junior and senior command course but we have not been able to do those training for the past few years due to financial constraint. So if we have now our own police college we will now be able to host those trainings in Belize and invite other countries to partake in the training with us so that is where we want to go to make our training more easily accessible to officers and with a view to ensure that we develop our officers professionally.”

During today’s ceremony at the Police Training Academy the US Embassy’s Charge d’ Affaires Keith Gilges initiated the handover of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) – Connect training equipment.  Gilges welcomed Dr. Priscilla Brown and presented the equipment to the Belize Police Department.

Keith Gilges, Charge d’ Affaires, US Embassy: “This was one of those great opportunities where we say well Belize is also part of the Caribbean so lets make sure that we’re tapping into the resources of CBSI and Belize really gets to be the bridge there and because it’s English language all the training that could be happening in other countries in the Caribbean can also then benefit Belize and vice versa. It is also a program that helps within Belize and so the ability to have training here in Belmopan, in Belize City and other locations with the portable equipment means that the capacity to get that training out to as many officers as possible is increased and it’s also as we showed it’s always nice when the technology works when the media is here and the event’s going on that’s not always the case but it really showed how robust this program is. The other element is technology is great but it’s only a tool, what you need is the curriculum, you need the professional ability to create the training and everything else so that you use the technology to get that to as many people as possible and that’s why we’re so proud to have Dr.Priscilla Brown on board to help with that whole process because ultimately the goal is not technology the goal is better policing, the goal is greater citizen security and that’s what we’re striving toward with both Dr.Brown’s work and with the CBSI Connect program.”

Speaking on her plans for the development of the Police curriculum, Dr Brown says there has to be a balance of academics and job performance.

Dr.Priscilla Brown: “We’ve started some work already by looking at the tips training which is Trafficking in Persons and that is already aligned to the CARICOM qualifications  framework so every training done in this institution will not be just a little training that somebody does but rather it’s gonna be well structured, it’s gonna be meeting all the international protocols and the long term goal is that we accredit this institution. It’s not going to be just a national police training academy but it’s going to be accredited so that all those who are trained here are professionals and representatives of the training they received. It’s both skills and academics because we cannot simply be teaching academics and not skills because policing you must have certain competences and certain skills and so we are cognizant of that and we have the support of the US Embassy ensuring that if we do not have the personnel here to provide the training in Belize that we’ll source those persons to ensure that the officers they do have the skills, the competency and certainly we want to look at all those challenges we’ve had and how do we ensure that we train the officers to be the best they possibly can. And so I bring the technical expertise in terms of curriculum development, standards, meeting accreditation requirements and looking at the training in a more assertive way because we must be able to raise the bar so that our officers are professionals in what they do. We know that they must do a forty hour mandatory annual training however that is the minimum but with the CBSI connect and with the new training models which we will have we will offer even much more so it will not be just a quick fix but it’s gonna be continuous training and support and assessing how well they are responding to the training and what else do we need to do as well so it’s not training in absence of assessment but certainly training and evaluating and planning and training again. Currently the type of curriculum structure we’re developing is that those who are trained we’re looking forward to having their training be transferrable to credits at institutions so having structure our curriculum we’ll be able to say well we’ve done so many training can you take this in lieu of a particular course and therefore they continue. So the academy is also strengthening it’s curriculum structure so it’s recognized by the tertiary institutions and it can be transferred into programs and so on so we will be working. If we speak of accreditation we cannot get accredited unless the training officers are skilled.”