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Apr 18, 2016

Police Act Swiftly to Deter Retaliation Violence

Chester Williams

In light of the recent shootings in the city, police stepped up operational presence in known gang areas to mitigate likely retaliation. On Sunday, ACP Chester Williams, Dianne Finnegan and GSU’s Commander, Superintendent Mark Flowers met George Street Gang members to diffuse tensions. Police also closed down night clubs and businesses as a way to prevent further bloodshed.

 

On the Phone: ACP Chester Williams, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“What we are doing now is we try to use diplomacy by speaking with these people and letting them know grounds we stand on, let them know what their perimeters are in terms of them grieving. And while we respect the right of people to grieve, we do not expect you to be grieving with firearms in hand, shooting at people. We go to step in and impose the law to ensure the safety of our citizens. So what we did yesterday was myself along with Dianne Finnegan and Mister Flowers from GSU, we had an intervention session with the main leaders of the George Street faction, laying out to them what is our plan. We explained to them that we are sympathizing with them; we understand their grief. But at the same time we ask that they do so peacefully and not to cause any havoc across the city. If they continue to do that then we will be coming at them with full force to ensure that the people of Belize City feel safe at all time. The police officers are told to enforce the law; that is they are to stop and search known criminals, known gang members. They are also search tinted vehicles, vehicles running without license plates. And vehicles that are moving around the city without license plates that are owned and operated by gang members or their affiliates will be taken into the police station until they can get the license plates for the vehicles because we have found that some of the shootings occurring now are being done by people in heavily tinted vehicles without license plates. I collaborated with Miss Phillips, my counterpart on Eastern Division North, and I explained to her what I was doing on south side and asked that if she can do the same on north side because we do not want that when we have establishment closed on the south, people go over to the north and then when those establishments close, we have an influx of people coming back over to the south which will create some challenge to us. So yes we collaborated on that and I also want to say that the GSU was also a part of what we did. For now we see that this has become necessary. I know it is not a popular decision, but at times we must make unpopular decisions especially when we know that it is the right things to do. So those are some of the measures that we have put in place to ensure that normalcy continues in Belize City. And I must say since we’ve had the interventions yesterday with the George Street factions and the measures we have put in place, last night or even yesterday, we didn’t have one incident of shooting in Belize City.”

 

According to ACP Williams, the department is also looking at Chinese establishments that remain open after nine p.m. Those shops are being closed down in accordance with the liquor licenses act. 

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