The Belize Police Department has mobilized and launched an operation in Belize City to curb the spate of gun violence that has plagued particularly the Southside area. That operation has been dubbed ACT, which stands for “Addressing Crime Together” and involves several units of the police department working in unison. The Department’s strategy has also brought Assistant Commissioner of Police Chester Williams back to the City. At a press conference today the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, Minister of State for Police Elodio Aragon Jr., and others within the top command of the department gave more details about the new approach to crime within the City. Dalila Ical Reports.
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police: “These shootings and murders are perpetrated by members of several gangs against rivals and in some instances involve inter-rivalry amongst the same gangs and are fuelled by drugs, drug sales and efforts to expand and control the distribution and street sale of drugs.”
Dalila Ical, Love FM: And with that certainty, Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie says the Department has designed a strategy to contain the escalating gun violence in Southside Belize City. As of six o’clock this morning the department launched the anti-crime operation ACT, which stands for “Addressing Crime Together” and includes the participation of several police units.
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police : “Anti Narcotics Unit, the Gang Suppression Unit, the Special Patrol Unit, the Special Branch, the Joint Intelligence Coordinating Center, Crimes Investigation Branch, Special Assignment Team, Mobile Interdiction Team as well as personnel of Eastern Division.”
Dalila Ical, Love FM: The operation will be driven by intelligence and Commissioner Whylie says their targets are gang members and their leaders.
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police :“We will target, disrupt and arrest known gang members and their leaders. We will proactively target individuals and groups engaged in the traffic of illicit drugs and firearms and ammunition. We will proactively target individuals and gangs involved and engaged in street-level gun and drug crime and we will target known criminals through increased stop and search operations as well as house searches.”
Dalila Ical, Love FM: As of today, police will maintain a high presence within the area, and the high command say they will operate within the bounds of the law.
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police : “We will be in their faces, we will be in their homes and we will utilize all available laws to arrest them, to ameliorate the existing climate of fear in the affected areas.”
Dalila Ical, Love FM: But the Department’s strategy is comprised of another tactic. They also seek to de-escalate the rivalry among gangs through mediation. That will be led by ACP Chester Williams.
Edward Broaster – Operations Commander : “We are in no way looking or seeking to target law-abiding citizens and if anybody has a problem with a police officer not acting professionally please feel free to contact us and let us know.”
Elodio Aragon, Minister of State : “Only by working together can we address this crime situation. In every neighborhood in every community, people know exactly what is happening, exactly who are the ringleaders, exactly who are the people and associates that are involved in crime. We need to come together as a community, as a people to ensure that we can tackle this problem.”
Dalila Ical, Love FM: And to further assist, the Ministry of Home Affairs, using its budget, has acquired fifteen new vehicles.
Elodio Aragon – Minister of State : “Fifteen new vehicles that will be deployed in ensuring that we have effective patrols on the ground not only to assure the public but also to assist in the direct operations to deal with these people who are directly involved in this crime situation.”
Officers who will be a part of the operation will be working twelve-hour shifts. The Commissioner also clarified that while more officers will be in and around the Southside areas, the department has not pulled officers from other formations though he stressed that if the need arises, they will consider it. The operation will run until the end of January.