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“It Takes a Village” to Stop Crime

The police Commander of Operations Chester Williams went to New Orleans on official police business to dialogue with a group called Cure Violence. That group takes on the approach that violence is a disease and must be treated and cured. Williams did not return with any elixirs of good health but says the strategies used are similar to the ones currently employed by the Belize Police Department, however, it would require the community to effect change.

D.C.P Chester Williams, Commander of Operations: “What we saw in New Orleans was basically nothing new to us. It is the things that we are already doing in terms of looking at the whole issue of solving or preventing crime by treating as what we would want to say – basically what they do is that you have a group of persons who is an NGO that operates in the New Orleans area and they would normally engage the gang members conducting interventions with them and let’s say for example a crime is committed the team would then go meet with the suspect and the victim and they would mediate between the groups to prevent any retaliations and you all have heard me say that many times before in terms of looking at the suspect and victim specifics. They also respond to hospitals and looking after the victims to ensure that no one goes to the hospital looking for them trying to complete whatever task that they may have had and they have an office at the hospital so they work out of the hospital as well. And so what I think we need to do whilst we are already doing what they are already doing and even more what we need is a better structure in terms of how we can operate to make ourselves more effective. That is not to say that what we are doing currently is not effective because it is effective but I believe that if we can pool our resources together and work between our Ministry and the Ministry of Human Development that we will be able to achieve much more and I will also tell you that even here with us in Belize in terms of looking at the work that CYDP does you would know that CYDB is under the Ministry of Human Development they do a lot of work in terms of being on the streets and intervening with gang members and these sort of things and I have been doing a lot of work with them so myself and Ms.Westby from CYDP we do have that relationship that we work very well just as I do with Ms.Finnegan and Brother Nuri because after all we have to understand that it is not a turf issue it is a community issue and we have to see how we can work together to make ourselves more effective if we truly want to be able to tackle the scourge of crime in our community.”