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May 29, 2001

Police visit Belize City hot spots

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Activities in observance of Police Week continued today with the department inviting journalists to visit some of the places they frequent in the course of their duties. Jose Sanchez reports from both sides of the street.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Police Week is an annual event in which officers visit neighborhoods not necessarily in pursuit of criminals but hopefully to develop a partnership with the community. According to Corporal Daniel Arzu it’s vital for the police to have a relationship with residents of even the most crime plagued neighborhoods.

Corporal Daniel Arzu, Police Officer

“Today we have the hot spots within the city. We are assigned to this area, King and Plues Streets, to have a close dialogue with the elements of the hot spots likewise the elements of the community. And what we are basically doing is trying to have a very close relationship with these people on the hot spots likewise the elements of the community so for them to regain the confidence in us and for us to work together as partners.”

Teresita Grajalez, Resident, Plues Street

“When they are doing the drugs and when they are drinking, you see they start to curse one another or when people are passing they interfere with the people. And they are always breaking pint bottles on the street, and I don’t think that is good. They say keep our city clean but the way they keep it is dirty more than anything else.”

“It’s a good idea for them to go around and know the problem, which area is more important. I think they need to patrol a lot for them to see the crime and what is happening.”

Though some neighbors are glad for the chance for a one on one session with the lawmen, many street hustlers are not particularly impressed.

Jose Sanchez

“You have been arrested and charged for robbery, how do you feel now that the police come out and talk to you, they are trying to make a difference? Does it work for you?”

Elroy Richards Saldano

“What they talk to me about is nothing that I don’t know, so it means nothing to me.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you think Police Week is a good idea?”

Elroy Richards Saldano

“Police Week is for police, not for us. Just try to make the most of a best situation for each and everybody.”

Jose Sanchez

“After today after you talk to them, how will you make you living?”

Elroy Richards Saldano

“Man I will be making my living the same way I’ve been trying to ever since.”

Jose Sanchez

“And that is?”

Elroy Richards Saldano

“By hustling.”

Timmy Stamp

“Life out here is rough, very rough my buddy, especially if you don’t have a job. And you are a man who have to pay your bills to time, it’s very rough.”

Jose Sanchez

“What do you and your friends do to survive? How do you make a living?”

Hezekiah Shiel

“We do like we are doing right here now, a little bit of gambling, a little bit of black stick, you know a little bit of cards, a little bit of juggling. For instance if you got something and you want me to get something done for you, you have people around here that can get it done for you quick like maybe box something for you, wash a vehicle, unload a container. Because we have people around here who do everything trying to make a dollar to survive before going in the street and trying to steal people and rob people.”

Sebastian Nunez, now out on bail for robbery, still believes that keeping the community safe is a necessary job.

Sebastian Nunez

“They have a job to do. If they get a report about you they have to investigate about it. This is how the Belize police force rests. They have to pick you up first before they investigate not the other way around. You have to ride with the programme with how the law works.”

Jose Sanchez

“In your opinion is Police Week a good idea?”

Sebastian Nunez

“Well Police Week is a good idea, I won’t go against that but they have to train to have a Police Week and co-operate along people on the street.”

Jose Sanchez

“They do realize that the next time they see you it might be to stop them from some illegal activity, what do you expect to gain from them by talking to them at this point?”

Corporal Daniel Arzu

“Well I’m somewhat convinced that they are quite hard in relation to what they’re doing, but they ought to understand that they do have the authorities that preserve the law and execute the law as a matter of fact. If we should have contact with them again, obviously they will be informed, if they are doing anything illegal, they will be informed of the illegal act and once it warrants arrest then we will have to execute our duties in that light.”

While the officers may not have bonded with everyone in the neighborhood, friend and foe alike know that the regular presence of police here is a fact of life that is not going to go away. Reporting for News 5, Jose Sanchez.

Police Week continues through Saturday. On Thursday night Commissioner Hughington Williams will be the guest on One on One with Dickie Bradley.

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