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#442825 - 07/19/12 08:31 AM Police Ass'n Lashes Out At High Command
Marty Offline
Complaining about police abuses has become a regular feature of the evening news - but tonight, the police are the ones doing the complaining about their own senior command.

The issue is police transfers - the Police Association says a new round of them has been executed with undue haste and extreme lack of consideration.

They spoke out publicly on Friday and continued today saying that the Force Administration is ignoring their concerns. It's gotten so bad that according to them, the officers who feel victimized by this rush transfer will go to court - if they continue to be ignored.

Daniel Ortiz examined in detail the true nature of the alleged indifference of the Administration to even consider their written correspondence.

Daniel Ortiz Reporting

The Police Association has submitted in writing a list of all the officers aggrieved by the rush transfers.

But, the problem is that the Police Administration has only made promises to address the situation. The association believes that there is deliberate foot-dragging - maybe even a deliberate ignorance.

Corporal Eldon Arzu - Acting President, Police Association
"Yesterday, at about 11 a.m., the Police Association forwarded the names of aggrieved officers, directly to the Commissioner of Police, and the officer in charge of Personnel Desk, for their consideration. The meeting that we held Friday, last week, the Commissioner of Police agreed to go through the names, as long as we submitted the list of names, to try to see how he could rectify. Having submitted the names, we have not received any response from the Department as to what will be the outcome of those aggrieved officers."

They claimed there were officers who were not even given the decency of a written notification, after been transferred around twice in the space of 4 week.

Daniel Ortiz
"Can you give us examples of certain officers who are now put in a bad position?"

Corporal Eldon Arzu
"We have several cases, and I will speak of a case in Caye Caulker. There was an officer who was recently transferred from Corozal to Belize City. Subsequently, he was transferred to Caye Caulker. Now, this officer has only been in Caye Caulker, I believe, less than a month. Now this officer was informed - not by anything in writing, but verbally - that he must now come back into Belize City. I want to make it clear that we are human beings. We are not tools, and even if we are tools, then we must be maintained. We must be taken care off. To transfer from Belize City to Caye Caulker, requires finance. You're speaking about going over the sea, to perform duties. It requires finance, and that officer has already invested. Legitimate expectation will tell you that this officer believes that when he was transferred from Belize City to Caye Caulker, his tour of duty would have been 2 years. So, having that officer coming back to Belize City with such short notice is really hampering his pocket. We're transferred without giving adequate notice; that is arbitrary to the Services Commission Regulations 2001, which the Commissioner of Police should apply when effecting transfers. So we, as the Association, are basically telling the Commissioner of Police, stick to the rules."

The Association believes proper delegation could have occured, if the Administration was truly concerned about addressing the issue.

Corporal Eldon Arzu
"I understand the Commissioner of Police is a very busy man, but also, there is effective delegation. We have other senior officers who work directly under the Commissioner of Police, and it's just for him to pass on that situation to deal with. We have the Personnel Desk; I am sure that there are competent officers there. So, it's just the Commissioner directing them and telling them, 'You deal with this situation for me, and then you get back in touch with the Association people. However, we have not received any response thereafter."

Sergeant Hendrick Williams - President Elect On Leave, Police Association
"In addition to what Corporal Arzu, the Commissioner comes with his staff officer, a ranking officer who goes through any documented to the Commissioner. And he, the Commissioner, can delegate tasks to the staff officer to make decisions on his behalf as well. So yes, we know he is a busy man, but there are things in place so that his office could run efficiently."

So could the Administration have transferred certain officers to deal with compromising situations? They said that, according to regulations, transfers are not to be used as punitive measures.

Daniel Ortiz
"Could it not be that certain of these officers' actions were in question, and in order for a proper investigation to take place, they will take them out of the situation? Isn't that a possible reason as to why certain officers transferred without any notice?"

Sergeant Hendrick Williams
"We are part of the serving commission. We are serving members of the department. We operate with the rule of evidence. Yes, if the police officer is in certain situations, there are rules that guide as to how to deal with police officers. You don't just transfer problems."

Association believes that they must remain in public view because it's too often that police officers are aggrieved by certain situations, but they suffer in silence.

Detective Sergeant Edlin Lorenzo - VP, Police Association
"It has been a subculture that we keep quiet, and the public just believes that everything is okay with us; everything is not okay with us. So, I'm telling the Police Administration, don't transfer any problem because if I am dealing drugs, then you must investigate and bring the evidence. You should then deal with me either out of the Department, or deal with me through disciplinary procedures. Don't just use it as a punitive measure, and i'll be there in limbo, and you treat me as though I am not a human. We have human right's as well."

Daniel Ortiz
"Can you confirm or deny that you believe that the administration isn't taking this concern from the Police Association seriously enough to deal with it in a timely fashion?"

Detective Sergeant Edlin Lorenzo
"I would say, 'Roger', on that because I have spoken to an aggrieved police officer, and a member from the Personnel Desk told him that it doesn't matter what the Association does, they've got to go. So, I'll say that this is a form of a hinderance, and a form of disrespect for the Association. It's the bureaucracy that is killing us. The Administration is right at Belmopan; downstairs, you have the personnel desk, and upstairs, is the Commissioner's office. That would only take 45 seconds to reach upstairs. The list could get there, and we could get a response because the officers have our cell numbers. But we are not getting any feedback. So, it seems as though they are taking us for a joke or a ride. But, what I can say right now on the media and to the general police populace, is that there are several aggrieved officers who are seeking legal redress. It's time to let the Administration step up and do the right thing, and to be held accountable for their actions. They need to be efficient and effective in carrying out the proper welfare of police officers because we are out there toiling. We are sacrificing our lives on the ground. And if a police officer is on patrol, and he isn't satisfied and happy, he will not stay focused. We want them to remain focused."

And it seems that Association has caught the attention of the officials at the Ministry level, and they are not happy that it has been brought to the public.

This evening, they sent out a press release saying quote,

"The Police Association is NOT a union, and the regulations governing the association strictly forbid any affiliation with unions or organizations whose purpose is to influence pay, pension or conditions of service of the Police Department."

IT adds that "the Ministry disapproves of the recent public posture adopted by the Association, because in a meeting on Monday they received assurances from the Minister that those matters would be adequately addressed."

The release ends by stressing that the decisions of the Commissioner of Police are properly delegated, and the only way it can be disputed is to appeal to the Belize Advisory Council.

Channel 7

#442826 - 07/19/12 08:32 AM Re: Police Ass'n Lashes Out At High Command [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

COMPOL Says Police Ass’n Over-Reacting

Today, we contacted the Commissioner of Police, David Henderson, and we asked him about the transfer situation, and he categorically refuted any claims that his office is responding with indifference.

In fact, he claims that his office has already started to process to reverse the transfers of those officers who were aggrieved.

Here's how he described the belaboring of a point which is already being dealt with.

David Henderson - Commissioner of Police
"Well, I know that I heard on the morning talk-show that the Association was making quite a number of complaints, but I don't know what is the big deal over their complaints because they have had a meeting with me on Friday, where were sat with them, and we went over the names. We asked them if they had anybody who had any gripes with the transfers. They were told to submit the names. They have submitted some names, yesterday. We have since gone over the names, and we have seen that the people that they are complaining about are people who have come in, and we have spoken to, and there have been adjustments made to their transfers. In fact, it is quite clear that it is only people who were informed from about January, who were slated to be transferred from January are on transfer. There were a few names that were on the transfer list, and have already been dealt with, and I don't know what the complaint is, or what sort of axe they have to grind. There is nobody who is being transferred who is under 2 years. In fact, I know of persons who have been posted at some stations for maybe 4 to 9 years, who haven't moved, and don't want to move. I have no axe to grind with anybody. I have no need to punish anybody, and I will not punish anybody."

We'll keep following the story to see what happens with the transfers.

Channel 7

#443157 - 07/24/12 07:57 AM Re: Police Ass'n Lashes Out At High Command [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Police Association: Toe-To-Toe With Top Cop

Last week, the Police Association made history when it came out publicly condemning the Senior Command's rushed police transfers. Commissioner of Police, David Henderson, who stated publicly that his office was working to reverse the transfers of those aggrieved officers.

Finally, we also told you that the Ministry of National Security was displeased that the Association went against the media police to speak freely to us.

But it seems that things are coming to a head, and 7News received unofficial word today that the senior Command has decided that because the Association refuses to remain quiet, they will be dismantled, and all privileges that they previously enjoyed are now null and void.

It sounds like a gag-order to us, but the Police Administration - all the way up to the Ministry of National Security Level - seems to have decided that they will no longer be 'dissed' by the Association which refuses to keep quiet.

There is nothing official yet, but we contacted the acting president, who told us that they had to miss a 10 o'clock appointment with Commissioner, who was supposed to tell them all of this in person.

Here's how he described that conversation with the Commissioner this morning:

Cpl. Eldon Arzu, Acting President - Police Association
"All our members were here and by 1pn we went to the Commissioner's office to see if we could have had the meeting with him and the Commissioner of Police was not receptive. I must state that my vice president when he called the commissioner of police earlier in the morning to try to see how he could have reschedule for 1pm he was not receptive at all. He just went on saying that all the resources that have been given to the association which is the office which is located at PGA will be withdrawn and the secondment of the president will be revoke. However, nothing has been given to the association in writing."

Daniel Ortiz
"How have they receive your efforts to speak out on the media?"

Cpl. Eldon Arzu
"It's only some persons in the administration that have a problem with the association going on the media. What they have done thus far is to bring to my attention that there is a media policy for the department stating that we as the association do not have the authority to go before the media. The association is not of that view in communicating with the media to get the message across to our general membership."

Daniel Ortiz
"There are other rules that they are saying that you guys have violated and also that the police association is currently being insubordinate by going against their wishes to speak to the media."

Cpl. Eldon Arzu
"I say to them to go and look at the Belize Constitution and the Belize constitution - there are provisions for an association to act in such a manner."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, but how do you respond to a criticism that you the police association have been the ones to misinterpret the constitution and what it says in relation to your ability to speak freely as police officers?"

Cpl. Eldon Arzu
"The association is not of that view. The association believes that they are well within the confines of the constitution, so if that is the case then - the ministry and the commissioner believes that we have infringed then he has his rights to take action."

Daniel Ortiz
"They are saying that so far they have been very patient with the police association and their insubordination and that you guys could have been brought up on disciplinary charges."

Cpl. Eldon Arzu
"Apparently you have more information that I do. Nothing of that sort has been written to the association. To hear that information is like new information. I was expecting that we could have met with the commissioner today to see where we go from here but thus far we have not."

The Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, told us that what the officers of the police association is doing is strictly prohibited and subject to disciplinary charges.

He also added that because they believe that the association misinterpreted the laws and regulation which governs them, they have opted at this time not to bring them up on disciplinary charges.

We'll keep following up on this situation.

Channel 7

#443453 - 07/28/12 07:49 AM Re: Police Ass'n Lashes Out At High Command [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

It’s official: the Police Association and Min. of National Security have patched things up

As we reported on Thursday night, the Police Association and Ministry of National Security have mended fences. In a joint press release, it was announced that the leaders of the association, Corporal Eldon Arzu and Sergeant Edlin Lorenzo, have apologized to the Commissioner of Police, David Henderson and Minister John Saldivar for going to the media over the police transfers and other internal matters. The release says, “the Commissioner of Police has decided to withdraw disciplinary charges against the Acting President and Vice President of the Association and has expressed regret at the breakdown in communication that has led to the fallout.” As part of the agreement, the rules that govern the Police Association will be revisited and revised to, “allow and enable the association to function more effectively without surpassing the legal boundaries afforded to it by law and without allowing any right, privilege or power akin to those afforded to a union.” Meanwhile, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize has put on hold a protest that was planned for this weekend, but says it will be monitoring the situation and stands ready to take action in the event that the agreement is breached. The N.T.U.C.B. also urges the association to continue to fight for legislative and police changes for better representational rights. The issue was discussed by Minister Saldivar at today’s House meeting, but only in the context of a clarification to a report in other parts of the media.

Channel 5


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