Belize is expecting to have a new, foreign Commissioner of Police by early 2012 - and so it's fitting that today we got to talk a former foreign Commish.
Charles Albert Howell was briefly commissioner of police in 1961 and 1962 under the colonial government. But that was no regular tour of duty for the member of the British colonial constabulary force.
1961 was during Hattie - and had to preside over a capital city - Belize at the time - which was smashed to bits by Hattie, leaving hundreds dead.
Howell - who's about to turn 91 - visited Belize with his family today on a Norwegian Cruise and reminisced about that difficult period.
We met him at the Queen Street Police Station:
Charles Albert Howell - Former Belizean Commissioner of Police
"It was offered the position as an assistant Superintendent with the British Colonial Police. Of course, Belize then, was British Honduras, so Honduras then was the only country then in the Americas, who was driving on the left-hand side of the road. People coming from Mexico would have accidents, and people going out would have accidents. So, I came over and I changed it from driving on the left, to driving on the right. Then after that, the original commissioner went home to England, and I took over. And then Hurricane Hattie came."
"You took over as commissioner in what year?"
"61, the end of 61."
"And then, that was co-incidental with Hurricane Hattie. They had curfews at that time, as I recall."
"Yes, we had that and in those days, unfortunately, if we found dead bodies - I think that we had about 400 people who died in the hurricane. We opened the prisons and we let the prisoners out because they would have all drowned. The whole town was under 8 feet of water. If we found bodies, we tried to identify, them; if we couldn't, we would burn them there, cremate them on the side of the road. So, not long after that, I went home on leave, I was being transferred to Africa, but my wife said, 'No, You aren't going to Africa.'"
"What was policing like at that particular juncture?"
"It was really a pleasure. You had very little crime here. Occasionally, we had a few murders. We had one out in the Mennonite community; we had one with a priest who had his head cut off. You remember that one? Yes, but otherwise, you had the occasional robbery, but you never had a bank robbery, assaulting women, or anything like that. I think that it was a great place to live. Now, we came back down; I wanted to see the old place. So here we are, and it's nice."
After Belize, Howell went unto live in Florida where he currently resides.