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May 15, 2013

Police and media train on getting along and sharing

Dialogue between the Belize Police Department and members of the local media, in an effort to improve an often hostile relationship, is a rare occurrence.  So, when reporters were invited to make presentations to the brass of the force this morning, it was a unique opportunity to openly discuss opinions and impressions that have been straining our fragile bond.  Beyond the need to mend fences is the issue of accurately informing the public on current events that involve the department.  The approach to sharing pertinent information with the media is, by and large, unfriendly.  According to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, that’s all about to change as senior officers are being encouraged to develop a professional rapport with media counterparts in sharing information.


Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police

Allen Whylie

“The purpose is simply because of the fact that the [Belize] Police Department is a service-oriented organization and with the level of proactive patrols we are trying to do it is obvious that we will have more contact with the public.  Some of those, or the majority of those will be positive but I’m certain there will be negatives and complaints will be coming.  The media is the vehicle that we use to keep the public informed of activities taking place, criminal activity.  We use it to update the public in terms of how we work.  We use it to inform them of the level of crime and safety and security issues.  So, I felt that a training of this magnitude was very, very necessary to empower my officers to feel free to speak to the media.  Yes, they must balance the individual rights of the victims, as well as the rights of the nation to know and so we cannot shy away from the fact that we have got to put the work that we are doing out there.  And, I know that most issues that arise it is referred to the Public Relations Officer Police.  I want us to have our officers competent, who have the knowledge to feel free to speak to the media because they have the firsthand information.  The PROP does not have that information, he only has what they send to him and so I want, although that will continue, if members of the media have the need to call a commander to ask for additional information or clarification.  I want them to feel comfortable and confident that he can pass that information along professionally to the media. At the administrative level we recognize that the media can make you and the media can break you.  We need to strike that balance because, as I said, the greatest medium to get out the positive work that we are doing is through the media and so we have got to find better ways to harness that to ensure that our message is put out there.”

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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No Responses for “Police and media train on getting along and sharing”

  1. Storm says:

    Police need the suppot and help of the vast majority of the public that WANTS police to succeed in arresting and convicting criminals, so it makes sense to try to improve the relationship with the press.

    Improving the relationship with the average people on the streets is important, too — save harassment and hassling for the “known criminals,” “usual suspects,” and known gangbangers. Most people will tend to help police if they are not afraid of them.

    Improving that relationship will require a change in attitude by many police officers, who too often feel it’s “them” against the world.

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