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Dec 3, 2021

Putting At-risk Youths to Work on Police Street

Earlier this week, we showed you the work that is being done to spruce up the riverside neighborhoods in Lake Independence.  That aspect of the cleanup campaign is being organized by Brandon Smith.  On the other side of the community, a similar effort is underway.  Led by Brandon Baptist, a group of young men chopped the overgrown grass along Police Street and cleared the area of debris.  The work was supervised by a dedicated team that comprises the Leadership Intervention Unit.  It’s an attempt at keeping the peace by finding something constructive for these young men to do.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A concerted effort between the Belize Police Department, the Department of Youth Services, the Belize City Council and, most importantly, the residents of Lake Independence is yielding positive results.  This morning, a group of young men from Police Street were engaged in a cleanup campaign in their neighborhood.  It’s an initiative that is being funded by City Hall to assist these at-risk youths.


Brandon Baptist, Resident, Police Street

“I really glad fi dis and happy fi dis too mein, check, cause we mi wahn show dehn long time dat we could work too mein, yoh get di sense.  We just wahn work, mek fu we money, go home, get tiad, go sleep, wake up back hurry fi work.  We wahn work, check.  I glad fi all ah dis too mein, yoh get di sense.  So, I woulda just wahn dehn continue with dis too mein, yoh get di sense, just continue, yoh undastand mi.  Just assist we with fu we job and we wahn work.  Noh worry bout nothing, we di work.”


Dr. Richard Rosado, in his capacity as Regional Commander for Eastern Division, has been working closely with this group.  In the past, he has led the department’s efforts in reaching out to these marginalized communities.


Dr. Richard Rosado, Regional Commander, Eastern Division

“We are cognizant that gang-related violence is a chronic problem and we have recognized that it requires a concerted effort of all stakeholders.  We have also realized that the Belize Police Department’s traditional gang enforcement strategy that is reliant on suppression, social control and legal sanction, in actuality it exacerbates the gang violence and strengthens the gang cohesion.”


To effectively break the bond that emboldens gang activity, the Leadership Intervention Unit is employing a different method, one where therapy is being offered as another course of action to crime and violence.


William Dawson, Chair, Leadership Intervention Unit

“What we are looking at is a therapeutic approach to mitigate crime and violence in the city and so in that regard, we are approaching this situation as an alternative to violence where these young men are receiving a weekly stipend, but they also have other components to it whereby they would have to do some training where they learn soft skills and also we’re looking at introducing them to some skills training where they will learn some vocational disciplines that they can also be incorporated in the workforce and also entrepreneurial skills and agricultural and farming skills as well.”


Covering the cost of the cleanup campaign is the Belize City Council.  As part of the ongoing effort, these guys are being paid with public funds to beautify their community.  Councilor Michael Novelo is responsible to oversee these works.


Michael Novelo, Belize City Council

“If you notice, the guys, when they are working, they pile up the spoils on the corner of the lane.  What we do is collaborate with the sanitation department, Councilor Goodin, he and his manager along with the city administrator and the mayor put an action plan into place on how we will clean the spoils.  There are fifteen groups throughout the city.  We are estimating that they produce two truckloads of dirt everyday, so that is thirty truckloads per day, you understand.  It’s a lot of spoils, so we have to put a plan in place to move them and that is where the council comes in with the backhoe, the dump trucks and to get them to the proper place.”


Going about one’s business peacefully is something that is sorely missed in this neighborhood.  Being able to restore a sense of calm through this initiative means a lot to these young men.


Brandon Baptist

“You know how good ih feel fi mek we could just deh pan di street side di chop and we deh together and we noh di get harassed or nobody di cohn shoot atta we or dehn thing deh.  That da love right deh, yoh get di sense.  We wahn ih continue just like dis too mein, yoh get di sense.  Mek we just keep dis love and peace too.  Dis da all weh I mih wahn, I mih want peace and love long time.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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