Squad 97 Makes History: Largest Police Recruit Cohort Graduates in Belize

Squad 97 Makes History: Largest Police Recruit Cohort Graduates in Belize

The Police Department had history made today as Squad 97 has been marked the largest cohort of police recruits graduating to constables.  This morning saw an official ceremony celebrating the successful completion of a 6-month training undertaken by 231 men and women from across the country.  Having been selected from the six districts, the men and women endured both physical, mental and theoretical exercises, preparing them for life in law-enforcement.  Dr. Priscilla Brown, the Police’s Curriculum Development Adviser, at the Police Training Academy stood at the lectern officially declaring Squad 97’s graduating class.

Dr. Priscilla Brown, Dean at Academics, Police Training Academy: “I’m pleased to present to you 57 female and 174 male law enforcement officers who have completed the theoretical and practical training for police constable. Our training curriculum and the field training officer program represent the quality standards and competency for exemplary law enforcement. I have monitored the instructional delivery to ensure that every instructor taught the regional and international requirements. Therefor it is a honor to confer on you squad 97 all the rights, privileges, responsibilities and obligations there onto.”

In his 9-minute address, Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa, reminded the new constables of their role in law enforcement, and the need to be measured in how they react to challenging situations that they will undoubtedly encounter in the line of duty.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “What is a police officer for anyways?  Your job is the business of security but it only becomes meaningful when people feel safe. As police officers you wear many hats. There are a lot of issues to contend with both within your precincts and on the streets of the country. The piloting of the defensive tactics program within your training curriculum is yet another installation meant to keep Belizean policing relevant and effective in combating security issues with professionalism as a pillar. You must remember you are many things to many people but primarily among these you must remember that you are professionals. Community is central to your work. It is why you exist as the Police Act mentions you are employed for the prevention and detection of crime. The apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order. The protection of property and the due enforcement of all laws regulations, rules and orders. Many times you will have to exercise a sharpened discretion. There will be long shifts. There will be difficult colleagues but always carry with you the reason you started. It was not to descend into any backward practices of perpetrating criminality and undue harm but to enforce the law.” 

Several awards were distributed during today’s ceremony, including one for Commandant’s Prize given to Gustavo Chan; Most Consistent Performance to Elvis Glenn; First Female in Shooting Qualification to Emelin Smith; First Place in Shooting Qualification to Darwin Cal; First Female in Physical Fitness to Teresia Slusher; First Place in Physical Fitness to Emroy Choco; First Place in Field Training Program to Bayron Salazar; First Aid Award to Darnell Anderson; Human Rights Award to Lily Alpuche; and Academic Awards to Risden Pinks and Divan Sosa.  This year’s Baton of Honor was awarded to Police Constable Abel Navarette Junior who eloquently delivered an address to his peers in Squad 97.

Abel Navarrete Jr, Baton of Honor Awardee:  “What is the life of a police recruit constable you may ask ? “Fall in !” you hear in the distance at 4:45 in the morning and the stampede of eager young men and women rushes out their doors to form our parade in front of the instructors office. A head count to start the day to see if anyone has admitted defeat throughout the night and left. We fatigued the grounds and buildings in which we reside followed by an intense session of physical training. We hit the showers and prepare ourselves for a day in the classrooms to nourish our minds with the knowledge of the department’s procedures and principles. All this in resolution by 5pm where we take off our boots of our feet, the uniform off our backs not to unwind but to ensure that we prepare for this cycle’s repetition until tomorrow’s end. It would not be accurate to say that training was a walk in the park. This is why I am proud to say that today we stand 231 strong with all of my squad brothers and sisters who represent dedication, commitment, and resilience which we have all demonstrated day in and day out throughout the entirety of our training. I now implore upon you my squad brothers and sisters that when we depart through those gates and venture forward in our policing careers that we continue to have the same characteristics that we portrayed throughout the training. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility. As we wear our uniforms and swear to uphold the law keep in mind that we are accountable not only to our superiors but also to the communities we serve.”

Today’s ceremony saw the attendance of the Police Commissioner Chester Williams, Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Froyla Tzalam; the Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett; and the Commandant of the Belize Defence Force, Brigadier General Azariel Loria.

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