Police Policy Under Fire: Criticism Over Handling of Injured Persons

Police Policy Under Fire: Criticism Over Handling of Injured Persons

The Belize Police Department has been facing increased criticism of its policy regarding the transportation of injured persons. In at least two instances this month, police arrived at the scene of a shooting where the victim was still alive but was left on the ground waiting for an ambulance. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams has gone on record to say that police mobiles normally only transport the dead, while ambulances transport the living. However, yesterday, he stated that it might be time to consider revising the policy. 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “From a professional standpoint I must say that there are two schools of thought when it comes to police transporting injured persons to the hospital from a crime scene. One school of thought is that the police should not do that because transporting a critically injured person requires that the person must be undergoing some medical treatment along the way to the hospital. The other one is that the police should do so in cases when the ambulance is going to take a long time to reach and if the incident is not too far from the hospital then the police should be able to transport the injured person. We have had instances where we would transport the person or persons to hospital where it’s a long distance and ambulance would take a very long time to come and the ambulance and the police would then meet along the way and then the police would transfer the injured person to the ambulance and then the ambulance carries the person forward. But I think that what we need to do going forward and just today I was doing some research in the aftermath of the outcry I saw on social media and the allegations made by Channel 7 and I think that there is a need for us to do a more comprehensive research and then perhaps join with the EMT personnel and see how we can develop a more reasonable policy because the truth is whenever we transport injured persons to the hospital we take a flogging from the EMT personnel. They’re saying that we should not and to some extent I would want to agree with them and to some extent I would not want to agree with them. But there is a need for us to develop a policy that is going to be reasonable and I think the policy should be that in situations where the person is extremely injured and the hospital is nearby then we should take that person. In cases where the person is injured and the hospital is quite a distance away then we can transport the person and then we meet up with the ambulance along the way and transfer that injured person to the ambulance for them to be able to take the person to the rest of the way to the hospital.”

Williams added if police carry an injured person and they die, the officers oftentimes end up being blamed in connection with the death.

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