Missed Opportunity

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By Gilroy Usher, Sr.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear” – Ambrose Redmoon

Less than two weeks ago, the country experienced a murderous weekend when Roshane Jones, 24, of Camalote and Alejandro Louriano, 21, of Lucky Strike were both fatally shot and a number of persons were chopped. This past weekend was just as bad.  Alvin Cummerbatch, 36, was shot dead on Sunday as he stood in front of Taylor’s Alley in Belize City. The weekend violence also left several persons suffering from gunshot wounds and in critical condition in the hospital.

Shaken by the worsening crime situation Government sent the Compol and one of his deputies on Love FM Morning Show early Monday morning to try and assure the public that crime was under control. The two senior police officers were asked questions by the hosts of the show only, as the phones were not open to allow questions from the public.

As was expected the officers regurgitated the tired line that crime in Belize is under control. The host of the show did not challenge the officers about that statement by making reference to the weekly report of several homicides, burglaries, armed robberies, and chopping across the country especially in Belize City.

Less than twelve hours after the two senior police officers left the TV station, there was a burglary and triple murder around mile ten on the George Price Highway. In the incident the intruders bound the hands and feet of Principal of Excelsior High School Alarice Andrewin, 44, Antonio Yuman, 39, and Maria Lucas, 19, then fatally shot all three in the head.

Belize’s dismal murder conviction rate of only three percent, is one of the main reasons why many of the criminal elements don’t think twice about taking the life of their fellow human beings. Nevertheless, the host of the Morning Show did not ask the officers to explain what has been done recently to train officers to protect crime scene, gather and secure evidence, and properly present such information in court as a way of improving the dismal conviction rate for murders and other crimes. Instead of such tough questions for improved community safety, precious time was spent talking about restricting the “so-called elaborate” hairstyle of female officers, which does not hinder the execution of their duties.

A number of burglaries, armed robberies, and even some of the recent murders have been committed by male minors, who did not get proper guidance in the home and in the community in growing up. To help deal with this shortfall in parenting, as head of Eastern Division in Belize City, ACP Howell Gillett led the formation police youth groups in several marginalized neighborhoods. These groups taught the youths a wide range of life skills to help guide them on the right path in life. When ACP Gillett was relocated to Belmopan, the very beneficial youth groups came to a sudden end. The youths, who were in the program, have been left leaderless.

Why that was allowed to happen? With the demise of the youth groups is the Police Department truly committed to assisting at risk youths in the old capital? Those are three very important questions that the host of the Morning Show never ask their two esteemed guests.

The top brass of the Belize Police Department has stated that the country cannot afford a forensic lab to combat crime including murders, which now claim the lives of over 140 Belizeans annually including scores of innocent persons.

Members of the public, who were listening to the Morning Show keenly, would have liked the host to ask the head of the Police Department if Belize would not make great strides in the fight against crime with a forensic lab. This could do the most basic things to pin criminals to their outrageous and often murderous actions.

The public would have liked the host of the Morning Show to ask the Compol and his Deputy to outline what they have done to make  the government aware that it must address their concern for minimal human resources and  equipment to effectively deal with the crime problem.

Missed opportunity: Two Senior police officers on that Morning Show were not asked those and other very important questions.

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