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Jan 8, 2020

B.P.D. Releases Official Crime Stats for 2019

The final numbers are in for the crimes committed in 2019 and the Belize Police Department says that major crimes were down this year. In the murder category, there were nine fewer than 2018. According to the department, most of the murders were committed with firearms and in rural locations. Commissioner Chester Williams says that they will be making some adjustments to their strategies and stepping up enforcement to curb crime this year. Today, the Commissioner spoke with the media about last year’s crimes. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Police Department says that major crimes were down overall in 2019. The records, according to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, show a decrease of ten percent when compared to 2018. The murder numbers compiled by police for 2019 show a total of one hundred and thirty-four homicides committed -  nine fewer than 2018’s murder count.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“We do have a decrease compared to the previous four years and we are seeing that the number one cause is alcohol consumption; followed by drugs; followed by gang related and then domestic violence. So, those are the four main causes of murders for 2019.”

 

The 2019 crime statistics also show that violent crimes, including murders, were more common in rural than urban areas. Commissioner Williams says this shift in geographic location means that they have to adjust their crime fighting strategies.

 

Chester Williams

“We have also seen that the violence has shifted from the urban areas to rural areas. We have seen that a number of murders for 2019 took place in rural communities as opposed to within the towns and cities. It does pose a challenge to us and we now have to see how we develop a strategy to address the crime in the rural areas. One of the things that we will be doing to address that is the composite patrols. They will be going into the rural areas where the problems are more prevalent.”

 

Notably, there are seventeen or so fewer murders recorded in the Belize District in 2019 when compared to 2018. Commissioner Williams says this decrease in murders committed in the city is the lowest in four years.

 

Chester Williams

“Belize City has the lowest murder count since 2015. So, the officers of Belize City performed really well under the command of ACP Dawson.   While Belize City performed well, Belize District performance was very poor. In the Ladyville area, murders went up by over a hundred percent and so while there was a huge reduction in Belize City, Ladyville bit off a huge chunk and brought Belize district numbers still down but not as high as it would have been. I think that at the end of the year, Belize district had a reduction of seventeen but that could have been far more than seventeen had the performance in the rural area been a bit better.  Belize district has an overall reduction in every category of crime that include murders and major crimes in a whole. Belize City major crime went down by one hundred and thirty-four compared to the same period last year.   The gang activity was very low in 2019 compared to other years. So, while we are always ready to vilify the gang members, we are seeing that they are not the main contributing factor to our murder count this year. The murder count, the greater numbers are attributed to persons like me and you who under normal circumstances would have been seen or act reasonably but after consuming alcohol our behavior alters and we behave in a different manner.”

 

What haven’t changed are the types of weapon being used to commit these murders. Firearms were used to commit most of the homicides in 2019.

 

Chester Williams

“Additionally we have also seen from the crime trend, that from the total number of murders committed, eighty-nine were committed with firearms; nineteen with knives and seventeen with machetes.  So, those are things again that we have to focus on especially when it comes to persons who are drinking and have with them pointed or edge tools or firearm; so that is another area we have to concentrate on with a view to see how we can really and truly positively impact the crime rate for 2020.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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