The traffic incident that claimed the life of Gilbert Swasey on Christmas Eve 2016 led to a series of comments, criticisms and discussion on social media. This heated debate was perhaps because the driver involved in this accident was UDP’s Alfonso Noble. In the course of the police investigation, Noble was detained for the entire Christmas weekend; it was a move by the police department that was deemed unusual since it has been common that drivers in these situations are served with a notice of intended prosecution and rarely ever detained for more than a few hours. Love News spoke with Minister responsible for the Belize Police Department, Elodio Aragon on this issue. He says it was a unique situation according to the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie.
“Police wise I can tell you from my experience they’ve always been served with NIP because its an acccident and accident has to be investigated to see who is wrong etc. From the information I was given is that the police officer on the ground had made the determination that he was at fault, I don’t know of sure and based on that he was charged and that is why he could not be sent before a magistrate and therefore he could not be given bail. This to me we have to look at it likewise that Mr.Noble is a political person and therefore the police department may have felt in a way that having served him with an NIP would in a way let the government look as though they are taking preference. To me on a professional level I think everybody should be treated the same way and if it is an accident and the normal course is to be served with an NIP then that should have been the case. Like I said that was at the purview of the commissioner of police he is at the head of the department and he made those calls. As the minister I will respect his decision in terms of looking at how he runs the police department but I always believe that we should treat people fairly no matter who they are and deal with them across the board and that i just my opinion on that.”
“So they can make those calls at their own whim?”
“No well it all depends on the situation. Like I said the commissioner had mentioned to me that this was a unique situation due to the fact that the officer had made his determination, the investigating officer and had placed charges. Usually charges don’t come until after you are served an NIP and then after that the DPP looks at the files or whoever else looks at the files and makes a determination and then you are summoned to court and then you are dealt with with your charges.”
The accident occurred at around mile four on the George Price Highway in the Belize City jurisdiction. Noble was charged with manslaughter by negligence, driving without due care and attention and failure to provide specimen to police.