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Jan 11, 2017

2016 Most Murderous Year Since 2012 as Murders Dominate Crime Statistics

An official breakdown of the 2016 crime statistics was provided by the top brass of the police today. As we have reported, murders are up by nineteen when compared to 2015; it means that the bloodshed in the past year was the highest since 2012. Most of the homicides were gang related. Today, the police announced it will roll out a crime fighting strategy in the coming weeks. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The year 2016, by all accounts, including recent figures released by the Belize Police Department, was a most violent year, second only to 2012 when the number of murders peaked at one hundred and forty-five.  The past twelve months saw an increase in homicides over the previous year.  That surge left an additional nineteen bodies in its wake.  Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie highlights an overall reduction in major crimes, notwithstanding the spike in murders.

 

Allen Whylie

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police

“The Belize Police Department recorded a total of two thousand, one hundred and thirty-seven major crimes for the period first, January to thirty-first, December, 2016.  When comparing the same period for 2015 we saw a total of two thousand, two hundred and sixteen major crimes recorded which showed a decrease of seventy-nine incidents or three point six percent.”

 

As it pertains to homicides, the Joint Intelligence Coordinating Center has organized that number into specific categories.

 

Allen Whylie

“Based on the information we had, we have classified of those murders; seventeen we’ve classified as gang-related, ten we’ve classified as domestic jealousy.  We’ve had ten for robberies.  We’ve had twenty-two for disputes, we have seven for revenge.  We have nine categorized as drug-related, we have one as a witness of a murder.  We have two for burglary, we have one where we believe an innocent bystander was killed and we have one also as mistaken identity.  Six as retaliation, one as a theft, one as a rape and fifty we do not know the reasons as to why those incidents may have occurred.”

 

While the police department is preparing to introduce a new plan of action to address the perennial issue of crime and violence in the weeks ahead, ComPol Whylie attests that a majority of the murders committed were crimes of opportunity.

 

Allen Whylie

“Many of the murders that occurred were crimes of opportunities and many cases were not preventable from the police side.  You must understand that there are other issues that drive the level of crimes out there, in particular murders because of the various disagreements between the different groups.”

 

2016, in spite of the increase in violent crimes, also saw the number of boots on the ground improved.  C.E.O. of Home Affairs, Retired Colonel George Lovell, explains the correlation.

 

George Lovell

Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Home Affairs

“Police alone and their actions cannot and will not bring down the level of crime to the extent that we as a society can be so happy with.  The police can be out there in the numbers or even in larger numbers and that in itself will not bring down the level of crime, especially the murders that we are seeing.  I think we need to look this from a whole of society standpoint and not just looking at police going out there in numbers and the sort of big sticks that we have.”

 

That holistic perspective has prompted the Ministry of Home Affairs to come up with a comprehensive strategy going forward.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of Police

“When we look at the crime statistics for 2016, I think that the last media interview I did, they asked me about the way forward and definitely we are coming up with a strategy that will be unveiled to the media and the public in the month of February.  This will be a strategic plan to address in specific, gangs and gun-related crimes.”

 

The police department, aside from grappling with the spike in crime, has not been sitting by idly.  Over the past twelve months, the men and women of law enforcement have been able to make measured progress in solving a number of those cases.

 

Allen Whylie

“Of the hundred and thirty-eight murders for 2016, fifty-one cases have been solved to date, eighty-seven cases are currently under investigation.  As a result of those cases solved, police have arrested and charged sixty-five persons; namely, sixty Belizeans, two Salvadorans, one Honduran, one Guyanese and one Guatemalan.”

 

That murder involving the Guyanese suspect was by far the most heinous criminal act of 2016 which resulted in the kidnapping and subsequent beheading of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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