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Feb 23, 2015

Cops Play Nice in the City

In its fresh approach to tackle crime, the top brass of eastern division was out in the city last Friday night. But instead of hauling in persons who were breaching the law albeit for petty offenses, police officers were playing good cops. Duane Moody joined the police operation which caught many folks by surprise.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

When you hear or see senior police officers heading out on an operation in hotspots across the city, it is often because of a major crime for which their intervention is necessary. As the 2014 crime stats confirm, the Old Capital remains the municipality with the highest frequency of criminal activities. These numbers rest on the shoulders of the top brass at the Eastern Division of the Belize Police Department. In June of last year, the department launched a “Not In My City” Initiative to put a grip on quality of life crimes such as riding bicycles without bells and lights as well as public drinking. The special operation on Friday night focused on bicycles and minor traffic offences.

 

Dezerie Phillips

ACP Dezerie Phillips, O.C., Eastern Division, Police Department

“From June last year, we have been embarking on this initiative; it has yielded some positive results for us. But tonight, we want to actually in the spirit of community oriented policing; we wanted to do something different and give back to the community. And tonight, my officers, senior officers and other police officers along with myself, instead of us summoning and arresting persons tonight for committing quality of life offenses as it relates to riding bicycles without bell and light, we will actually be looking for persons who are riding bicycles without bell and light and we will be giving the community bells and lights. And we will be documenting this so that if you are caught next week or next month, you should have your bell and your light.”

 

A total of one hundred bells and lights were issued to Belize City residents within a three-hour period. Most were caught off guard as the police pickups approached.

 

Resident

“I was trying to get my light out of my pocket. But I just came out of the store so right away I can’t trust so I had to put on my light.”

 

Reporter

“So you figured you were going to take a fine tonight?”

 

Resident

“Yes because I just got mi lee yeast weh I mi wah deal with and tonight dah mi night off too.”

 

Reporter

“At least the officers decided that they were going to be nice instead of being strict.”

 

Resident

“Appreciated, appreciated.  It necessary fi true because right now like how dah rainy season, once yo got yo lee light, drivers might noh get chance to look at yo properly, but once they see the lee light dehn conscious that dah you.”

 

Reporter

“What would you tell people that don’t have lights and bells on?”

 

Resident

“Come on, get yours cause yo need it.”

 

Resident

“When the light attach to the bike, sometimes it drop off and sometimes yo di hurry and yon oh even know it comes off. So thanks mien.”

Resident

“I feel grateful for it. At least I noh wah get wah twenty-five dollars charge or wah another charge. I safe that I got wah light. Thanks very much.”

 

Resident

“Now when they charge yo, dehn can’t complain about charge on bike. Yo understand me. Now when unu get charge, unu noh complain about light on unu bike and bell…that’s why dehn give unu it so unu please come get it.”

 

For one resident his circumstance is very real and he simply could not afford to buy the light and bell for his bicycle.

 

Resident

“Maybe dehn pick me up, ker me and charge me for it. I woudla have to pay for it and I respect that.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir is it difficult getting a bell and a light for a bike?”

 

Resident

“No really difficult, but the way how things di run out yah, money noh deh di make every day. So we have to go piece, piece every day. Sometimes dah noh every time yo pick up a dollar or two. Buying a bread, a lee sugar and thing; that takes place. So a bell and a light takes a little while so we have to buy food first.”

 

Assistant Commissioner of Police Dezerie Phillips has been at the helm of the Eastern Division since July of 2014 and her priorities include boosting the morale of officers, rebuilding community trust and crime reduction. The crackdown on these petty crimes fosters better relationships between law enforcement officers.

 

ACP Dezerie Phillips

“I think it is a very overwhelming turnout of people. Actually we didn’t expect people to be gathered in this kind of setting, but you saw how it started off. We had to search for persons and we found many persons without light and bell, but I think that the overall reaction is that people are very much appreciative of it.”

 

Resident

“Unu wah make I cry. Jesus I got light and bell now. Police can’t ker me in no more. It’s for free? I love you so much now. Ih make mi pressure the raise and mi sugar.”

 

Charges for the quality of life crimes range from twenty-five dollars to a hundred dollars. Duane Moody for News Five.

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