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Sep 1, 2014

Media Blackout – Eastern Division to Introduce Public Relations Buffer

Douglas Hyde

It’s official – media personnel will no longer have access to Senior Police Officers from the Eastern Division when trying to access information. That bit of bad news came via email. Effective immediately, any queries for information will have to be directed to the newly formed Public Relations Unit. Douglas Hyde, the Public relations Coordinator in the unit, will be meeting with all media houses on Thursday to attempt to sell the idea of a public relations buffer between Senior Police officials and the media, at least where information gathering is concerned. That’s going to be a hard-sell, largely because getting current information from the Police Press Officer has been an exercise in futility. Realistically, the only reason we’re able to provide accurate information to the public is because we’re generally able to access it from the police officers themselves. This morning, we got a chance to ask Hyde why the change in a system which works.

 

Douglas Hyde, Public Relations Coordinator, Eastern Division

“What we’ve done is to restructure that and since we have developed and created this Public Relations Unit and the team, we expect basically the same cooperation that was given to our press officer to continue, but also through the Public Relations Unit. This simply means that when there are incidents, we expect basically communication with the Unit first, which then will basically do the structuring of the specific area of the incident and that specific police officer who then will relay that information along with the press officer and myself as the Public Relations Coordinator.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, there have been complaints before and I’ve brought it up to you that previously when we have tried to get information from the Police Press Officer we end up giving him information that he didn’t have. Will there be a move within the Police structure to change that?”

 

Douglas Hyde

“We already made some changes. This is our third week as a Unit and within our second week, which was last week, I already made some internal changes where the Officer in charge of the Eastern Division has given directives that all information when it relates to crime and violence that occurs in the Belize District must come through the Public Relations Unit, so both the Press Officer and myself, along with my assistant who is a Woman Corporal, receive that information, and based on our receiving that information is how we give it to the media likewise.”

 

Reporter

“Do you see this extending, expanding to the rest of the country?”

 

Douglas Hyde

“I think what already has happened since last week is that the other commanders have visited Eastern Division to see the new unit, and I myself have developed an Eastern Division public relations document that basically builds a structure of what public relations should be in the department and likewise the way forward when it comes to the whole unit and our responsibilities and our processes how we deal with information received and information going out.”

 

Reporter

“So with the formulation of that paper do you see this extending to the rest of the country?”

 

Douglas Hyde

“I believe so, but that directive would have to come from the Commissioner who would then decide whether or not he wants a Public Relations Unit for the entire Belize District in terms of the country itself.”

 

We note that at least one media house has written to the Police, stating that the decision is “unilateral, arbitrary and smacks of micromanagement and interference with the free flow of information essential to an informed citizenry.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Media Blackout – Eastern Division to Introduce Public Relations Buffer”

  1. kmh says:

    Nothing new. They have tried it before and Belizean media worked around it. There are enough police officers disgusted with corruption on the force and lack of progress in cases they work on to leak information and the public will come through when they see the information about crimes in their area are being covered up. This is temporary setback only. Belizean media will not be muzzled and the public will not tolerate their right to know about criminals in the community being violated. Sadly we may see more vigilante violence if accurate information is not forthcoming from police. So it will backfire. History repeating itself.

  2. moses x says:

    I agree. Belize is a small place and everybody know each others business. The police rely on the public for their information then they regurgitate it to the press. The media on many occasions has more updated information than the police. The police are incapable of putting out information in a concise and comprehensive format, so hey need a press officer to clean up what they divulge. Most of the senior officers can barely speak in coherent sentences.

  3. beachman says:

    basically….

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