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Nov 7, 2022

ComPol on Curfew Arrests: I Wish Officers Had Used More Discretion

Chester Williams

The impact that Hurricane Lisa has had on Belize City prompted the government to impose a district-wide curfew through the weekend. But because the storm lasted several hours and the power outage thereafter lasted for a couple days in some cases, a lot of those people did not have any means of knowing that a curfew was in effect from seven in the night. Many were arrested and charged in that regard, and while the arresting officers were merely doing their job, Commissioner Williams said he wished that they had used a bit more discretion in some cases.

 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“At the time the curfew was called, many people were out of current; some had no internet. They had no access to social media so the information about the existence of the curfew was not widely received by the public, so because of that many persons were caught off-guard, not knowing that there was a curfew. That is where I have an issue. I think that the officers ought to have used more discretion, considering the circumstances before just arresting people. Yes I do understand that they’re doing their job as well, but there are times we need to be more sympathetic or empathetic towards the issues of people and these were not persons who were caught long after the curfew hours. It was just as the curfew began – early the night. So I think that in the future we need to do better in terms of using our discretion so as not to criminalize people who are not aware of the existence of a particular law.”


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