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Police hold intervention in troubled neighbourhoods

Police were forced to stage an immediate intervention in the Conch Shell Bay area of Belize City after several shootings were occurring almost every night. More than four shooting incidents have occurred in the area since the start of the year and even the Area Representative, Minister Tracy Taegar Panton, saw it necessary to be part of the intervention. Several interventions have taken place in the area with the purpose of addressing issues within the community. Heading the interventions is Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for Southside Belize City Chester Williams.

ACP Chester Williams – OC Eastern Division South

“We have done a number of interventions too in both communities geared at reaching out to the troubled young men to see how we can guide them in ironing out their differences, letting them understand the importance of life and the importance of living together in the respective communities. One thing I can also say is that they have agreed, we are having a church service this Sunday at St. Johns Anglican Cathedral and they have agreed to accompany us to church on Sunday so I think that is good to see that they are willing to come to church with us, go and pray and worship We are hoping that with all it is that we are doing in addition to the additional patrols and additional police efforts that we have put in these areas that we will see some calm within both communities. So we are quite optimistic as to what we are doing and the results that we will be getting from our efforts in these areas.”

ACP Williams explained why shootings with in the area increased over the past few weeks.

ACP Chester Williams – OC Eastern Division South

“The community is one community but one of the things we have found out is that the young men within these communities are bringing in others from other communities within the area and when they do that, it creates problems because there is tensions sometimes between those persons from the other communities and that community so when the two groups of people end up in the same community where they have rivalries then it is a problem.  What we have done as well particularly where the Conch Shell Bay area is concerned, I’ve given instructions to my officers to ensure that those persons who we know have rivalries with people in the Conch Shell Bay area to not allow them in that area until the situation in the area has become more calm.  If they go in at this time seeing that the situation is still volatile it might cause problems to escalate again and we do not want.  We are doing different things like keeping some people out who we believe have rivalries with persons who live in these communities.”

According to Williams, given the geography of the area, officers are having a difficult time in policing the hotspot.

ACP Chester Williams – OC Eastern Division South

“Yes, the police are posted there and we have established a permanent patrol in the Conch Shell Bay area, but you will know that across the river is the Lindo’s Alley area and that too is problematic. The police cannot remain just at the corner of Ebony Street and West Collet Canal, they have to go into Lindo’s Alley from time to time.  What we found is that like I said, because of the close proximity of the community they monitor the police and when the police went over to Lindo’s Alley that is when the shooting in Conch Shell Bay took place.  We have put in place additional measures to be able to prevent that and we are also hoping that with the new strategy where we now have a neighborhood watch group, we now have the police going in to recruit cadets and we have also received some assistance from Belmopan, that we will be able to cover more area within the Conch Shell Bay.  That way we can have a patrol over on East Collet Canal and one over on West Collet Canal so the one in East Collet Canal will be able to deal with the Lindo’s Alley area and the one on West Collet Canal will deal with the Conch Shell Bay area. At the end of the day what the people in that area are clamoring for is that sense of security and as a police department we are determined to ensure that we give them that.”