Police-Media Relations Sink to New Low
Over the past three weekends, there has been a considerable increase in homicides across the country; the most recent being a string of unrelated murders, including that of sixty-six-year-old Elbert Gillett. The elderly cab driver was shot and killed, before being dumped in a secluded area near Belizean Beach. His body was found in an advanced state of decomposition on Sunday. Despite numerous requests from the media for a police press brief on this and other matters, our calls have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, the liaison officers at the department have not made themselves available for comment since February twentieth. What that signals is a clear breakdown in the relationship between the media and the Belize Police Department, effectively arresting the free flow of official information to the public. Even with a promising meeting with the brass of the department, as well as ministry officials on January eleventh, little progress has been made, save for the drafting of a revised media policy. That set of guidelines is yet to be formalized by the Ministry of Home Affairs; however, it has little or nothing to do with the present situation. As a result, the media has decided to boycott all police events until the issue is resolved. That embargo commenced on Tuesday with a collective decision not to cover the graduation ceremony of the Gang Resistance Education and Training program. It is hoped that the existing cold war will end in a thawing out of hostility between both parties. For context, we will revisit a previous comment made by Minister of Police Elodio Aragon Junior on January eleventh.
Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of Police [File: January 11th, 2017]
“This is just to streamline the way police information is passed on to the media in regards to information that is needed by them for their newscast. Today I think we had a good sit down with the media and their personalities, along with the police commanders from Belize City and of course the personnel who work in the media office of the police department. This was in an effort to streamline how information is passed on from the police department to the media and vice versa. I think it was a very productive meeting and I think that at the end of the day all our media personalities understand, media houses understand what we are trying to do to look at the way forward in ensuring that we have a good working relationship because at the end of the day the media is our partner and we want them to understand how important and how much we value them as a part of the society we live in and we want to continue to have that good working relationship with the media.”