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May 15, 2002

Police Commissioner Zetina lays down his laws

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Almost two weeks ago, former Assistant to the Commissioner of Police Carmen Zetina, officially took over as the top cop of the Belize Police Department. This afternoon, Commissioner Zetina, eleven days into his new job, sat down with members of the press corps to discuss how he will manage things at the helm. News 5′s Janelle Chanona reports.

Carmen Zetina, Commissioner of Police

“My administration will be transparent. And that is my message to the senior officers last week Friday, transparency, transparency, transparency.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

That’s the word from Belize’s new Police Commissioner Carmen Zetina. Zetina, a police officer for the past thirty-four years, has held several senior level positions in the force. He says while he intends to focus on all the criminal activity, special attention will be given to traffic and liquor licensing violations, and of course, the repeated reports of police brutality.

Carmen Zetina

“I have no place for police brutality. I know we’re going to have excess, but that doesn’t mean I will condone it. Maybe they will have my sympathy and remember what I said, sympathy, but when it’s outright abuse and misuse of power, you can safely say that I will not condone it.”

One of Zetina’s most recent announcements was in regard to high level changes within the ranks. Among them, Inspector Crispin Jefferies moves to Belmopan to head up operations; Assistant Inspector Edward Broaster leaves Benque for the capital as formation commander. Head of the Criminal Investigations Branch, Mario Vernon moves over to the Prosecution Branch, and Eastern Division’s Yolanda Murray heads north to Corozal, becoming the first ever woman to run a formation. Zetina says these changes and others underway are designed to improve the overall morale of the department.

Carmen Zetina

“We will continue with the five years strategic plan into 2005, and any commissioner, any person who succeeds me for that matter, will have something to work on. It is the bible, it is our bible, and I can tell you that each formation has their own, because if you move any new officer into say Corozal or Orange Walk, they are working on the basis of what we have already produced. It is only the style of doing things that will change.”

“If we were affected, if morale was affected in any way in the past, I can say, and I have reason to believe that morale has somewhat been uplifted by my mere appointment, because I think the rank and file knows what I stand for, transparency. So we start building morale, a semblance as such of morale building in the department. With respect to equipment, it is a known fact, but I can tell you government has made a commitment and just yesterday we got four additional new vehicles in the department, four additional Toyota vehicles had been given to us yesterday.”

Janelle Chanona

“Those were a part of the Zabaneh confiscation?”

“I don’t know where it came from, but I can tell you it came from government.”

But it would appear that as Zetina tries to revitalise the police force, he’ll have the hand over the reigns rather quickly. He turns fifty-five, the retirement age, in a little under four months.

Carmen Zetina

“Don’t worry about the four months, I think four months is too much for me knowing the style… I can safely tell you that there will be changes. If we take the outlook of police should see things, if we build the confidence within the department, which is greatly need, we want to build the confidence of the public in line of prosecution of cases; we will do that.”

And undoubtedly, Zetina will need every ounce of his confidence to reform the attitude of not only his officers, but that of the Belizean community, as the Police Department tries to restore the progress set back by recent events. Reporting for News 5, I am Janelle Chanona.

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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