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Oct 27, 2017

Police Prepare to ACT

Police today launched an initiative called ACT, which stands for Addressing Crime Together, to tackle the spiralling urban violence related to gang activities.  ACT will boost police presence in three hot spots in the south side where the number of murders is at an alarming upward trend. In fact, up to this point in the year there has been a record forty-nine murders in the south side, beating out the forty-eight reported in 2014. Overall, there have been one hundred and twenty-one murders countrywide. The current trend, if left unchecked, would leave 2017 as the most murderous year in recent times. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has more on what police will do to prevent that.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A concentrated effort by various branches of local law enforcement to stem the raging gun violence that has spread across Belize City, targets specific neighborhoods south of the Haulover Creek, beginning with Lake Independence.  In the past six days alone, a pair of murders, as well as a brazen attempt on the life of Cardinal Andrews, has been recorded.  The BWSL employee remains hospitalized after being shot in the head on Wednesday, while Shaqwuan Almendarez was laid to rest earlier today.  He was killed in a separate incident last weekend.

 

Allen Whylie

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police

“Over the past few months, and in particular, over the last three weeks, we have experienced an increase in crimes, in particular, shootings and murders on the south side of Belize City.  These shootings and murders are perpetrated by members of several gangs against rivals, and in some instances involve inter-rivalry amongst the same gang and are fueled over drugs, drug sales and efforts to expand and control the distribution and street sales of drugs.  These heinous and senseless crimes have created not only grief and economic hardship to those grieving families who have lost loved ones, but it has also created fear amongst the law-abiding residents of this city.”

 

In an effort to allay those fears, a new strategy has been devised, one which will see the physical presence of officers in distinct locations.  Police Commissioner Allen Whylie identified those neighborhoods this morning.

 

Allen Whylie

“The three areas that this operation will be the Port [Loyola] area, the Collet area and the Saint Martin’s or Lake Independence areas.  Those are the areas that the analysis indicates to us we have been having this increase in shootings and murders, so the operation, as I said, is focused to address this issue.”

 

Having specified these areas, a new crime fighting strategy is being introduced.  Short for Addressing Crime Together, ACT is the latest measure to be rolled out by the Belize Police Department, a sort of boots on the ground approach that is led by intelligence.  At its helm is Operations Commander Edward Broaster.

 

Edward Broaster

ACP Edward Broaster, Commander of Operations

“You will see high visibility of police officers day and night and we trust that the community will work with us.  As the commissioner said, let us act, Address Crime Together. To those law-abiding citizens, we ask to be patient and forgiving if you get entangled in any of our checkpoints or what-have-you.  We are in no way looking or seeking to target law-abiding citizens and if anybody has a problem with a police officer not acting professionally, please feel free to contact us and let us know.  We have set up two important phone numbers which is cell phones, that we are asking the community to text crime in to Assistant Commissioner of Police Dezerie Phillips, who is a well trusted career police officer and she will be sharing those numbers with you.”

 

ACP Dezerie Magdaleno encourages residents to report crime by contacting her directly, with assurance that all information will be kept strictly confidential.

 

Dezerie Magdaleno

ACP Dezerie Magdaleno, Commander, Eastern Division Police

“If you see something, please say something to me.  The cell phones that are activated for this purpose, for this operation: one is a Digicel, the number is 634-5168 and the Smart number is 660-1164.  I know I may have sleepless nights but I’m up for it.  Call me, text me anytime and I want to assure you, I’m putting my face here and my name, I’m assuring the public that the information you share with me will be kept confidential.”

 

Perhaps an equally critical component of the initiative is the return of ACP Chester Williams in a limited capacity.  While his substantive post remains Commander of Professional Standards Branch, he is once again tasked with leading the mediation effort among the various groups.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams, Lead Mediator

“I have also contacted CYDP and they have agreed that we will work together in this endeavor.  I have also contacted the Belize City Council and they too are also willing to join hands with the police to be able to plan and organize different sporting or diversion events that we can get young people into to prevent them from getting engaged in gangs or criminal activities.  The main purpose of the intervention and mediation is to be able to diffuse the tensions between the gangs through mediations and interventions.  Yes, while we have the tough component of the operation, we also want to be able to provide that avenue for those persons who would want to come to the table and make a change that we can engage in some degree of dialogue.”

 

ACT remains in effect until the end of the year. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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