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Nov 24, 2022

Mental Health Association Speaks Up After Deadly Francis Ramos Shooting

The Mental Health Association has issued a statement in the wake of Wednesday’s deadly officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of forty-eight-year-old Francis Ramos Junior, an individual who had been struggling with mental illness.  In the absence of adequate training and proper protocols on how to treat with persons suffering from mental illness, the association says that Belize can adopt special training programs that exist in other countries. Christa Courtenay is the Vice President of the Mental Health Association.


Christa Courtenay

Christa Courtenay, Vice President, Mental Health Association

“It’s rare that we’re able going to be able to solve it once it reaches this crisis level, and it appears, I do not know the details of this situation but it appears from what is available to us that it was already a crisis situation. One of the things that mental health association continues to advocate for, and I believe we’ll have soon a little better participation from the ministries that need to be involved. Something like a forensic unit, so people who are familiar with how things work in other countries, there is a legal framework that protects the right of all that allows police to detain persons who have announced or who have demonstrated in some way that they are a danger to themselves or someone else. We don’t have that law or that structure in Belize and so families are faced with family member who are severely mentally-ill or maybe uncooperative in maintaining their medication regiment or whatever treatment may be available to them. We get into crisis situations that then there are no real protocols that allow law enforcement to intervene legally because technically he had not yet committed a crime, but he may have. We really don’t know and we have seen situations where people were not able to take action ahead of time and a crime was committed and you look and say all the signs where there we knew this might happen why we couldn’t have done something. The truth is the framework is not there, the protocol is not there; the training is not there nor is the community response. Police officers are supposed to be that…police officers and while we say we can’t expect them to know how to handle every situation there are special training programs that could be brought Belize quite easily.”

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