It got lost in the tragedy surrounding the death of Police Constable Dean Yearwood on Sunday but a debate surrounding the use of force and training for police officers in all incidents has begun inside the Police Department. At Monday’s press conference in Belize City Commissioner Allen Whylie discussed the parameters for non-lethal use of force.
Allen Whylie – Commissioner of Police:
The Department is still largely an unarmed organization. It not every officer [that] is issued with a firearm, and it’s not every officer [who] has access to a firearm. But we live in a real world. We live in a violent society, and it would be remiss of me too have certain officers, based on the type of work they do, that have access to a firearm, even when they’re off-duty. I know that in the past we’ve acquired a few tasers. We’ve put a protocol in place. I think that took place under Mr Jefferies. I have recently been reviewing that protocol, and then we will sit down again at the policy group level to look at, based on this incident, where do we go. It is obvious that we’ve got to look at other non-lethal equipments, and again we’ve got to look at how we issue those, because I would not want an officer, faced with a violent situation, to have a pepper spray or a mace, and the criminal has a gun or something. So it’s still an unarmed organization, but because of the threats officers face, and the criminals have guns, there’s a lot of guns out there, so we’ve got to look at it as administrators. It’s a question that we will be asking and trying to answer at our next Policy Group Meeting.