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Oct 28, 2016

Senior Police and New Minister of State Meet in Belmopan

Earlier this week, we brought you the statements of the new Minister of State for Home Affairs, Elodio Aragon Junior. He served as a police officer for seventeen years, bowing out as Deputy Commissioner in 2013 to pursue politics. He was duly elected in the Orange Walk East constituency and up until last week Tuesday, was the Minister of State under Patrick Faber in the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, holding direct responsibilities for the latter three portfolios. With this new appointment, he has “come home,” and today he was center stage, speaking to many of the men and women he once served with. The purpose? To assess where the Police Department is now, and where it will go next. Correspondent Aaron Humes reports from Belmopan.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

The Belize Police Department has seen two changes of leadership in eight weeks – from Minister of National Security John Saldivar to Minister of Home Affairs Godwin Hulse to Minister of State Elodio Aragon, Jr., under the substantive Minister, Prime Minister Dean Barrow. And while that may be cause for some concern among the Police’s echelon, C.E.O. in the Ministry George Lovell reminded the senior officers attending today’s conference at the Police Training Academy that their mission and importance to our society has not abated.


George Lovell

Ret’d Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of Home Affairs

“Despite the fact that there are a number of movements at the higher echelon, and we still haven’t really settled in terms of those kinds of leadership at that level, for us as senior officers, and as those who are expected to carry on, and to hold that torch and make sure that we keep everything tight as we go forward, there is no change. We have a responsibility as senior officers, and I as C.E.O. who seems to be the common denominator in all these movements – we all together have a responsibility to ensure that our citizens, our people, get the best sort of service that we can offer. And we are now the ones who are tasked to ensure that that is done. There is no one more capable; there is no one better than us to do so; there is no one that is set in the kind of situation where they can influence what is going on in this country as it relates to law and order than we who are here.”


The new boss is, by his own admission, different from the old boss. He now wears a political hat instead of the Police beret. But Minister of State Aragon still has the same passion for policing – and he told the commanders that he wants to help them get their jobs done, while holding them to account as the society they protect and serve does to him and to them.


Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs

“What I will tell you is that as Minister responsible for Police, I am not here to do the work of the Police Commissioner or even more your work as senior officers. Rather, I am here in my capacity to look at policy; to look at ensuring that the Belize Police Department’s objectives and priorities are achieved – to see the reduction of crime, especially that of murder and other major crimes that are concerns to the Department, [and the] public at large; that they are addressed as best as possible. To ensure that all of us are held accountable in the work we do. For improvements and success to come about, we as leaders must all be held accountable. We must not be afraid of being held accountable, but rather embrace it, and work to accomplish our Department’s objectives and priorities.”


The Minister of State says his two most significant challenges are reducing crime and maintaining confidence in a Department whose members still occasionally find themselves on the wrong side of the law whether being forced to take up arms against citizens or succumbing to the temptations of bribery, extortion or other corruption.


Elodio Aragon Jr.

“This is not about us going and just at the whiff, we say ‘we will go here and there;’ no, we have to sit down, we have to really look at what is working within this Department, what is not working and what needs to change. I am confident that a lot of strategies are out there, a lot of plans are out there; and we need to look at that, we need to do some analysis, we have to see what will work and improve upon that; and what will not work, then we will just have to look elsewhere. But I am confident that this Police Department right now, with the capacity of our senior officers, alongside the support from the Government of this country, and of course if we get the full support and that cooperation from the community, we can make great things happen; and I am looking  towards that. It’s not only about being reactive; we must be proactive in ensuring that we keep corruption at bay in the Police Department and ensure that we become effective in everything else that we do. And these things come and these things will take some time; but I am sure that we need to start, and the work has commenced years ago. I remember when I first joined the Police Department, umpteen years ago, when Human Rights was just coming in; if anybody was a police officer or a citizen of this country and was involved with the Police, they can tell you, the difference that has come about from years ago is a major difference; major developments in this country.”


Allen Whylie

And he has the vote of confidence of Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie.


Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police

“Indeed, Minister Aragon as a former police officer is aware, acutely aware, of some of the deficiencies and challenges, and I’m certain that having that knowledge will assist him, in whatever arguments and justifications he needs to make to assist the Department in getting additional resources.”


From Belmopan, Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The Minister of State holds a criminology degree from the University of Leicestershire, England, and also a degree from the University of North Florida.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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