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Sep 11, 2015

Commander Bennett Says Incidents Affect BNCG Morale

Elton Bennett

Bennett reiterates that they are assisting the Police in the investigation, and have also conducted their own internal investigation to parallel that by the Police. The five men have been returned to active duty. And so have three Coast Guard officers who have been charged for extortion in the Corozal District, though it is expected that they will be interdicted shortly. Bennett briefed us on that other black mark against the very prestigious arm of law enforcement in Belize.

 

Commander Elton Bennett, Belize National Coast Guard

“There were three men posted out at Consejo. They were on legitimate operations and they got involved with a situation that led to Police conducting a sting operation in which they were charged for extortion. In that case up in Consejo the Police have charged them and the three men are out on bail and those three men were recommended for interdiction because they were charged.”

 

Reporter

“In terms of disciplinary action we know about the Police tribunal, but does the Coast Guard operate on a similar system?”

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“In a case like that they would go before the Security Services Commission. They would conduct a tribunal and they would make a decision whether those men keep their jobs or not.”

 

Reporter

You said there was a recommendation for interdiction. Was that recommendation taken or are these men back on active duty?

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“That recommendation came from our headquarters because they were charged. That is currently up its chain of command through the Ministry of National Security and then on to the Services Commission. We have not received a response as yet.”

 

Reporter

“So these men are back on active duty?”

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“They are currently on active duty but we believe that the process will take its course and more than likely they will be interdicted.”

 

Reporter

“Could we speak to you about the effect which these situations have on the Coast Guard? Perhaps even more than the BDF and the Police, the Coast Guard depends on its reputation of being an elite unit. We have the situation with Keyren Tzib, we have the situation with the five men detained by Police and now the three Coast Guard officers charged for extortion. How does that affect the Coast Guard?”

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“It definitely does. It affects the morale of the men very badly. Of course with the public our image is in question. We want to assure the public that these incidents, as isolated as they are, we take them very seriously and we are very concerned. We are trying to look at measures to improve the way we manage and the way we conduct operations. We’re planning to increase the level of leadership on these operations and to ensure that there are senior personnel in charge on all operations. It’s very unfortunate, it’s something that we want to improve on and we want to keep that professional image.”

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