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Sep 28, 2004

Community policing targets high schools

Story PictureIf ending the AIDS epidemic ranks high on the Nation’s "to-do" list, its biggest competitor for the nation’s attention is the problem of crime. Again, today it was Belize’s youth being asked to make some adjustments in attitude.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

These high school students may have felt safe seated among a large number of police officers, but the young men and women from Edward P. Yoke High School were very much part of a one day meeting with Zone Beat Liaison Officers. These officers work along with communities, families and schools to address situations that feed violence and crime. It’s a challenge the ZBLO undertakes with limited resources and under difficult circumstances. Today’s task was ironing out those kinks and coming up with recommendations to improve community policing in Belize.

Joseph Sampson, Coordinator, ZBLO

?I believe the police the police is going to definitely going to look at some of the ways in which it could involve the community more in policing activities. We certainly want to highlight the importance of the neighbourhood watch movement. But we are also willing to explore other ways and that is why we are going to have our young people here today so we can also listen to them because they are the future and they are the present. And we want to get a sense of what they feel so that we can make those specific recommendations, which will send to the Commissioner for his approval and hopefully whatever we will come with from here to day can become part of the policy of the Police Department.?

Superintendent Rudolph Orio encouraged his fellow officers to do what it takes to make the programme a success and cautioned that their actions can affect what they are trying to achieve. For example recent police brutality cases have put a damper on the working relationship between the police and the general public.

Supt. Rudolph Orio, Facilitator, ZBLO

?If we can view our work as a missionary campaign we can put plenty more effort into what we are doing. We need to follow through in what we are doing.?

?Many times cases are finished; people are being charged; people go to court and they plead guilty and the case is done away with. The individual who made the complaint sometimes one year or two years does not know the case is finished.?

The officers were encouraged to work with all members of society. The students were advised to establish school watch programs in their respective institutions.

Supt. Rudolph Orio

?We have school watch runs on a similar programme of the neighbourhood watch. In the states it works and it is the same thing here. There is no reason for it not to work here in Belize.?

It is not sure if Edward P York high school will follow up on the advice but the students seem to have accepted the idea.

Patrick Bradley, Student, E.P.Y High School

?Basically in the schools nowadays, people tend to do things out of the way and if the teachers don’t know who did it or what so basically the students can help out by telling them basically what happen.?

Although school visits are very much a part of community policing, the students believe a lot needs to be done to improve the relationship

Robin Mckenzie, Student

?Go on a one and one basis with the students that have issues with the police. They need to go into communities to question them and ask them what the problem is. What is a solution? They just need to work on a one-on-one basis within the community with individuals.?

Police commissioner Carmen Zetina says just as they have made a great effort in dealing decisively with officers who have stepped out of line, they want to send an equally strong message about their overall commitment to community policing.

Carmen Zetina, Police Commissioner

?That we are serious about working in partnership with them and trying to improve the whole scenario and including enhancing our police image.?

Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

The meeting took place at the BTL Park at Newtown Barracks.

 

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