Prime Minister touch on a number of hot button issues when we caught up with him at the Best Western Hotel earlier today. PM Barrow was there for a meeting of a special committee selected to deal specifically with the escalation of crime. There was representation from the Crime Control Council, the Police High Command, civil society and the Opposition. The meeting lasted well over four hours, and when the Prime Minister finally emerged, he said he was satisfied that a serious step in the right direction has been taken and the group is fully engaged in finding a real solution to what has been a crippling problem.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“We of course had a post mortem with respect to the murders and discovery of the four bodies. In the aftermath of that, we looked at the reforms that the police department are trying to institute. We discussed generally the way forward for RESTORE Belize do that we could concentrate not just on the enforcement, aspect of things, but on the social remedial aspect of things. And as you can imagine, each and every single topic provoked a great deal of back and forth, a great deal of discussion, a great deal of analysis—all of what I think was extremely constructive and extremely productive. There’s a great deal that is happening in terms of the restructuring of units and departments within the larger police force. For example, there is now a new forensics depart4mtn that will be headed not just by the technical analysis, but by an administrator, an ex-commissioner Henderson will take over that job. The movements of senior personnel within the department such as Mister Vidal’s going to head the Special Branch, how that will fit into the larger plan to make the department more effective. All those aspects were gone into. What the police put forward was examined minutely by the participants in the meeting. We talked about training and the police indicated what the opportunities are for sending people aboard to be trained. We also talked about the role of advisors. There is a number of external advisors that are being brought in to be attached to various units within the Police Department. There are no quick fixes, but it was my sense that a consensus emerged which expressed itself in terms of people saying yeah this is the way to go.”
By our count there have been eight murders and four shootings since the year started, but no homicides since the brutal murders of four reputed George Street Gang affiliates last week. Still, tension on the streets is at what can arguably be called a high point.