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Apr 2, 2019

WPCs Must Keep Hair above Shoulder

The Belize Police Department is enforcing a regulation in the Standing Orders which has some women police officers up in arms. The department is implementing its code of ethics outlined in the Police Services Regulations and Police Act, specifically as it relates to the length of their hair and style. Women police officers who have their hair below their shoulders while on duty and in uniform are being asked to adhere to the regulations. Some women in the force have taken issue with the enforcement as well as the regulation itself, claiming that it infringes their right to freedom of religion. Others say that the regulations are archaic as it does not prevent them from carrying out their responsibilities. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams spoke on the matter today. 

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“It’s shocking to see how people religion changes so quickly overnight. But the truth is that these are not new regulations that have been enforced from before I joined the police department. Every female officer is fully aware that the police services regulations clearly states female officers are not suppose to have any elaborate hairstyle or any attachments in their hair. That is standard. The rules are not that they must cut their hair to their shoulder. The rules are that their hair must not be below their shoulder. So a female who has long hair can put it in a bun or something of that sort that would keep her hair up above their collar. That was done for good reasons. If it is that you as a female officer encounter a situation on a street and have to get in a scuffle, the first thing that the person will go after is the hair. Having your hair up in that bun makes it more difficult for those persons that you encounter to want to use your hair as a weapon against you. Despite knowing what the rules are some women have taken it upon themselves and have grown dreadlocks against the regulations. They know that it is not permissible. I am saying that we must keep to what we are as a department. Even Jamaica which is the home of dreadlocks, there is no dread cops in Jamaica. Police officers in Belize are guided by the police service regulations and the police act that clearly tells us how we must appear. If it is that we are going to allow women to wear dreadlocks then when the men want to go dreadlocks we have to allow them too. If we allow the women and don’t allow the men then the men can clearly state that we are discriminating against them on the basis that we are allowing one gender to do it and not them. So we must strike a balance in terms we will look at our rules and in terms of how we enforce our rules.”


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