Border Jumpers are not the only ones being targeted by the police. Police are actually keeping an eye on their own. Over the last week we have heard of several complaints against police officers who are abusing their authority and taking advantage of the Covid-19 regulations to extort money from citizens. Earlier this week we told you of the police officer who extorted three hundred dollars from an American national after he was not wearing a mask inside his vehicle as he approached a checkpoint. The incident occurred near Tower Hill in Orange Walk and a formal report was made to the police. Investigators have since charged 38-year-old Police Constable Reginald Diego Junior of Libertad Village, Corozal District for extortion. Love News understands that Diego will also face internal discipline. Another cop was in the news over the last week when he was caught smuggling a border jumper into Belize via the Jalacte area. Police Constable Johnathon Cal was with his wife while the pregnant border jumper hid in the back seat of the vehicle. The group approached a checkpoint and that was when it all went south for Cal. He was arrested in this incident and was taken into quarantine with his wife and the border jumper who delivered her baby the following day. The scandal shadowing PC Cal doesn’t end with the border jumper. As a matter of fact, PC Cal was under suspicion for several reasons including the case of a missing gun. Police Commissioner Chester Williams did not go into details of the suspicions but our newsroom has since learnt that Cal was charged and convicted for this firearm and was ordered to pay two thousand eight hundred dollars. With all these complaints surfacing Police Commissioner had indicated to the media on Monday that he would be going to the Attorney General to add a regulation to the next SI that would have security forces face jail time in cases of solicitation, bribery and extortion. It seems the Commissioner’s suggestion was favored and by the next day the addition was made to SI 122. According to the Police Commissioner this added regulation was necessary as he has seen an increase in reports of bribery involving his officers.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “We are in receipt of other complaints but not official complaints at this time. We’re trying to get those persons to come forward and make their complaints and so I have also discussed the matter with the Attorney General because I believe that there might be a lot out there but people are not coming forward and the way the law is currently structured is that we charge for extortion and that is a very lengthy process because it has to go Supreme Court but I have suggested to the AG that what we can do whenever we amend the SI again we can put provision in there that any member of the security force who accepts money from any person to avoid prosecution under the regulation commits an offence and the penalty for that will be one year imprisonment and that would then give us the ability to be able to deal more swiftly with officers who have the propensity of using the SI to extort people. They will know that the repercussions will be swift and once their convicted then they’re out of a job so we’re hoping that the recommendation will be accepted and we’ll be able to address this matter more swiftly. We have to be able to find a way to nip this as quick as we can and I believe that such a provision will serve as a strong deterrent to police officers who may want to do it because they will know that it won’t take this three, four years in Supreme Court it will be dealt more swiftly.”
The new regulation states, quote, “any person who bribes or attempts to bribe a member of the security forces or any other public officer charged with duties under these Regulations commits an offence. (2) Any member of the security forces or any other public officer who under the cover of his office demands or obtains from any person, whether for public purposes or for himself or any other person, any money or valuable consideration which he knows that he is not lawfully authorized to demand or obtain, or at a time at which he knows that he is not lawfully authorized to demand, commits an offence. (3) A person who commits offence under this regulation is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for one year.” End of quote. Our story of profile criminals does not end with the seemingly corrupt police officers. Tonight, there is a story of a Church Pastor who was caught on surveillance footage stealing from a hardware store. Reports are that 49-year-old Roberto Ruiz was detained in Spanish Lookout, Cayo District after the owners of Farmers Trading Centre caught him red handed on three separate occasions shoplifting tools from the store. The company is seeking court action on the matter. Love News understands that Ruiz stole tools valued at three thousand dollars.