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Jun 8, 2007

New policies give caye cops new look

Story PictureIf you are a big television fan, you might remember a show in the late 1990s called “Pacific Blue” which was about the adventures of cops patrolling Santa Monica beach on bicycles. Well life is imitating art as the Belize Police Department is changing its wardrobe and public image in San Pedro. News Five’s Kendra Griffith has the skinny.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
This is how San Pedro’s Tourism Police Officers used to look … but as of today, the caye cops have traded the khakis for navy shorts and polo shirts.

The new look was unveiled at ceremonies held this morning on the island. A.S.P. Desiree Philips is the Officer in Charge of the Tourism Police Unit.

A.S.P. Desiree Philips, O.C., Tourism Police Unit
“The concept behind this new initiative is basically two-fold, the first is to have a more tourist friendly outlook and approach and the second is a deterrent to criminal activities.”

“This patrol will focus mostly on the beach front and in the business community because statistics have shown that we are experiencing a lot of petty thefts and hassling the tourists on the beach front.”

Gerald Westby, Commissioner of Police
“Belize being a hot climate it is more conducive for working on the beach and what not.”

In addition to the beach-friendly attire, the officers were also outfitted with bicycles.

P.C. Aaron Usher, Tourism Police Officer
“With the foot patrol we are only able to go a certain distance. With the bicycles we will be able to cover double the distance while having the same visuality as a foot patrol.”

Kendra Griffith
“I know with men they are really particular about their shorts. You have a problem with the shorts, they meet your approval?”

P.C. Aaron Usher
“Not really, but they’ll have to do.” [laughs]

Kendra Griffith
“It’s too long, too short?”

P.C. Aaron Usher
“Too short.”

W.P.C. Yadira Jones, Tourism Police Officer
“It’s a complete change in the Police Department and we all agree about it and we love it.”

Kendra Griffith
“It’s more comfortable than the old one?”

W.P.C. Yadira Jones
“Pretty comfortable, especially in the heat, in this type of weather that we have here in San Pedro. It’s really hot right now in San Pedro so this came in quite comfortable for us.”

According to Commissioner of Police Gerald Westby, the transformation was made possible through the contributions from community partners.

Gerald Westby
“We have the B.T.B. who has been working hand in hand with us; we have the business community in San Pedro who has been working with us. We have the local municipality and other residents who have made this a reality. It did not cost the Police Department a cent to equip them.”

Chris Berlin, Businessman
“It’s what we see as one of the better ways for efficiency and economics. We can help put six officers on the street, all of them with their own transportation, fully equipped for about the same cost as a used golf cart.”

The uniforms, however, are only one of a number of changes that have been taking placein San Pedro.

Gerald Westby
“We have been gradually increasing the number of personnel here in San Pedro, we have a new commander in the person of Assistant Superintendent Patt, he’s young and very dynamic; we’ve increased the police tourism unit to six and are doing that across the country because we recognise that visitor safety is important for the industry to survive.”

The Police Department says they plan on implementing the new attire to at other popular tourist destinations.

ASP Desiree Philips
“Primarily we will look at San Pedro first, we will then go on to Caye Caulker and Placencia and then we will extend it as we see fit.”

There are currently forty-seven tourism police officers dispersed across the country. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The officers have not ditched their old uniforms entirely however, as they’ll have to use their khakis for formal events such as court appearances.

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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