Police Destroy Illicit Weapons

Police Destroy Illicit Weapons

After years of collecting dust at the police’s armory, today several illicit and prohibited weapons were destroyed by the police. The destruction was done in collaboration with the country’s other security forces, and served as a training session for twenty-three officers. The destruction began this afternoon at the Police Training Academy, where handguns, machine guns, and even homemade firearms were cut into tiny pieces. Reporter Vejea Alvarez has the story.

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: This week, 901 assorted firearms will be chopped into pieces by the Belize Police Department. The deadly weapons were either confiscated by the country’s security forces, deemed too deadly for public use, or became obsolete. One by one, the guns will be disassembled and destroyed at the Police Training Academy in Belmopan. Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa says the destruction seeks to ensure the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs:  “It’s a very important exercise not only in terms of assisting personnel in all security forces including the Customs Department in terms of the storage of firearms, the safety procedures but also as you saw today the destruction of some 923 very deadly weapons that we certainly would not want to get out into the hands of the wrong people and so this is an extremely important exercise and again as a result of this great partnership that we have with these agencies.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The venture is in partnership with the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACTS), the Mine Advisory Group, and the British High Commission. Assistant Director of Policy and Strategy at CARICOM IMPACTS Alex Joseph spoke about the project’s significance.

Alex Joseph, CARICOM IMPACTS: “This program is not only done in Belize but his program si done many other countries in the Caribbean. So part of this program is not only about destroying weapons. Firstly we do an assessment in the country and we want the program to be what the country needs. So after we do that assessment in the country we provide training which is critically important and we also assist the country in terms of building the storage for weapons also. So in terms of where weapons are stored we ensure that those places are secure for weapons, right level of accountability, right level of protocol there also. The aim of that program is to ensure that Belize on its own can do for itself. So we want to build capacity in Belize that they do not have to invite any agency again to support them, that you’d have the capacity here to do this for your own. So also the equipment also will be donated to the Government of Belize.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Deputy Commissioner of Police Bartholomew Jones says the event was part of the department’s effort to reduce gun violence and provide better training to officers in firearm and ammunition management. 

Bartholomew Jones, Deputy Commissioner of Police: “Part of the training was the proper destruction of firearms. So the idea is to properly destroy them so that there is no way that they could be reassembled and no part could be and so that’s why we have the expert supervision and the guys who were on the training last week are learning so that hey will know how to do it properly on the next occasion. But I assure you that it is being done in a such a way that none of the parts are useable at the end. So no spring, no barrel, no nothing can be used again.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: While today’s event was all about destruction, Nikita Mohammed, Regional Program Manager of Mine Advisory Group, explained that the NGO is also working with the security forces to ensure the rest of their guns are kept safe. 

Nikita Mohammed, Regional Program Manager, Mine Advisory Group: “MAG is providing technical guidance to these different state agencies. We are providing the actual training to the different state agencies on how to securely store and manage their physical stockpiles of weapons and ammunition. We are providing the materials so with the support of the UK government we were able to procure the materials the chop saws that you saw on those tables, the generator, everything so that we could effectively destroyed the weapons.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Minister Musa believes the police still have a lot of work to do to remove all the guns that have made their way to the hands of criminals and says that it will take some time. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “There are thousands that enter our country illegally whether it is through our ports, whether it’s through our very porous and illegal border crossings, very easy to come across the border. Most of the times the origin is the United States and they make their way down through Mexico, through Guatemala and like I said across our illegal crossings into the country and so there are thousands and each year hundreds of them are recovered off the streets by our police department and so it’s a constant action that needs to be taken with respect to illicit firearms.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The project was funded by the British High Commission. Vejea Alvarez, Love News.

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