A State of Emergency has been declared by the Governor General via Statutory Instrument Number 89. The 5-page SI aligns with Section 18 (3) of the Belize Constitution where there has to be sufficient evidence that the safety of the public is being threatened in order for such a declaration to be made. The evidence has been presented, and with that, the south side of Belize City has been pinned as the hotspot area when it comes to gun violence and crime. With all the paperwork signed, sealed and delivered, units of the Belize Police Department were out at dawn today picking up known gang members and criminal elements. Police Commissioner Chester Williams briefed the media late this evening on the 30-day State of Emergency and how it will be carried out.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Over the past few weeks we have seen a number of gang related shootings in different parts of the city. While the police have been able to conduct investigations in respect to these incidents and by the admission of the surviving victims as well as through our intelligence mechanism we have been able to pinpoint who are these persons behind these triggers but due to the fact that the surviving victims and witnesses in connection with the cases where the victims passed away do not wish to cooperate with police investigation. And when I say cooperate I mean in terms of giving us what they may have seen in writing in the form of a statement in order for us to be able to effect arrest we have not been able to remove those persons off our streets. We find that for the most part whenever these incidents occur the talking from the victims or the relative of the victims is that they are going to take their own retaliation. So that has made it hard for the police to be able to arrest the situation by getting those persons who are responsible charged and sent to prison. And so we saw that particularly over the weekend that went that the shootings were increasing especially in the Antelope Street Extension area where there seems to be an intense fued over the sale of drugs between two rivaling groups as well as in the Mayflower area. As you all know that that feud in that area has been going on for quite some time and it has cost a number of lives and again we saw over the weekend where a teenager went into the home of Joseph Panting and could have executed three persons. So we have seen a number of reckless shootings from these gang figures. And so with that I made recommendations to our minister to institute a state of emergency because we have been unable to remove these people off the streets due to non cooperation on the part of victims and witnesses and so the minister and the Cabinet agreed that in order to arrest the situation considering the fact that we’re not getting cooperation to arrest and charge that the best option is to institute the state of emergency. You would know that this government is very slow to use that method and as our minister had said before that the state of emergency will always be a measure of last resort when all ends fail.”
While the declaration speaks to the south side of Belize City, Police Commissioner Williams explained that there are specific areas that the Police are looking at including but not limited to the Mayflower Street, Supal Street, Kraal Road, sections of the Lake Independence area among others.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Talking seemingly is not working. They are adamant about avenging whatever may have occurred and so with that this morning we went into operation. We had elements of the specialized units within the police department and officers from eastern division and we also had members of the Belize Defence Force with us and we executed the state of emergency operation by picking up a total of twenty four persons. Those persons are currently in custody, they will be processed and will be sent to prison under the state of emergency. The areas declared are as follows. We have the Backaland area which includes everything west of McKay Boulevard in the St.Martin’s area. We have the Antelope Street extension area which includes everything south of the George Price Highway and north of Penn Road, west of Central American Boulevard all the way to the Fabers Road roundabout. We have the Supal Street area where there’s everything south of South Creek, west of Fairweather Street, East of Central American Boulevard and it goes all the way to the Caribbean Sea which would be everything north of the Caribbean Sea and I’m sure you all know what I mean it’s all the way like the Kraal Road that leads to the sea. We also have the Rocky Road area and George Street. We have as well the Mayflower area which encompasses that whole area north of Cemetery Road and then west of East Collet Canal to Nargusta Street and then east of the boulevard. So those are the areas that have been declared and let me say that while the state of emergency has been declared in these areas that we are going to employ our best endeavor not to use all the powers given to us in that state of emergency.”
Tune into The Morning Show on Love Television and Love FM tomorrow morning at seven o’clock for further clarifications with the Police Commissioner.