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Apr 20, 2020

ComPol Weighs In on Media House Facebook Post

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that 7News didn’t break any laws with their Facebook post over the weekend. The media house posted that they received credible reports that a man from Corozal was at the K.H.M.H. showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The post went on to say that that the patient was in respiratory distress and on a ventilator and that frontline staff may have been exposed when he was admitted, among other pieces of information.  Later, the Director of Health Services issued a release that the person didn’t test positive and was hospitalized because of an accident. The original post was being widely shared online and when the official statement was released, the public were asking why the new station wasn’t called out by authorities for what the public perceived to be fake news when three persons have already been charged for spreading fake news.  Today, Commissioner Chester Williams told the media that in order to determine if the department can proceed with a prosecution, they had to determine if the post was false and if it created public alarm.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Now, is the post false? Let’s dissect it. Patient at hospital? Yes a patient was there. Two – did the patient have respiratory problems? Yes. Was the patient on ventilator? Yes. Was the K.H.M.H. dealing with the patient as a COVID-19 case? Yes. Were there concerns that hospital workers may have been exposed while the patient was admitted had he been positive for COVID-19? The answer is yes. I even saw photos of medical practitioners in their full regale. The post by Channel 7 was premature, yes, but it was not false. And so based on that there can be no prosecution. I would ask that the media be more responsible in the sense that when you get information from within, because I know you have sources planted everywhere, even in police, but when you get information from within try to reach out to somebody for confirmation or you await confirmation before you put it out in the public domain because sometimes you get things that that are not true and it comes across as irresponsible reporting.”



“In terms of the post we did and the law that is currently on the books to prosecute people for information that could lead to public panic. How dangerous is that law in terms of the press because we often get information that is half true or could be wrongly represented but it is our duty to move forward with what we have?”


Chester Williams

“I don’t want it to seem as if we are trying to suppress the media. That is the last thing we would want to do. I respect the work that you all as media people do but I just ask that you be a bit more responsible especially in times like these. When it comes to reporting we have to be more responsible in it. I saw posts on Facebook where people are asking that the media be held at a higher standard and I would want to agree with them because you are a professional journalist so you should be held at a higher standard. But at the same time you get information and you have a right to bring it to your audience but while you do have that right but you have to ensure that what you are reporting to the audience is the truth.”

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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