On, Monday November 17th, presidents from the various Neighborhood Watch committees on Ambergris Caye held a meeting to discuss pressing issues in San Pedro. Also present at the meeting was Deputy Officer in Charge of Police, Inspector Henry Jemmott, town foreman Freddie Gonzalez, Deputy Mayor Gabriel Nuñez, Council Wally Nuñez and San Pedro Human Development Officer Adan Kay. Two of the main issued discussed in the meeting was the level of crime on the island and the urgent need for boat manifests on public transportation. Officiating the meeting was Steve Spiro, who expressed the need to work together to improve the well-being of the island for residents and tourists alike.
According to Inspector Jemmott, while crime is under control, more resources are still needed to secure the entire island. “The San Pedro Police Department has the addition of a new vehicle which will be used by the Criminal Investigation Branch and the Special Operation Branch. What we are lacking the most is personnel. With the season coming in we will need to have more patrols and at the moment we have limited officers. We have placed a request for more officers and we are hoping to get new police soon,” said Inspector Jemmott.
In addition, plans are being made to set a curfew for San Pedro. “Too many children are out late at night. This is not safe. We need to implement a curfew to ensure children are not out on the street but at home,” said Kay. Inspector Jemmott added that while the curfew is a good idea, authorities have to be strict on implementing it. “The only way the curfew will work is if we have people patrolling the streets and actually taking these children into custody. The problem will not be solved with a curfew alone, we need to charge the parents for allowing their children to be out at night. We cannot put all the blame on the child for being out late at night, because it is the parent’s responsibility. So when we pick up a child we will go to his/her home and give the parent a warning. If we find their child out for a second instance, then that parent will be charged because they clearly are not complying with the rules and regulations of the curfew,” said Inspector Jemmott. Parents are urged to be more mindful of their children’s whereabouts; negligence is not an excuse.
The final item discussed in the meeting was the need to implement a boat manifest. Currently the three water taxis are not recording the names or numbers of passengers travelling in their vessels. A manifest is a document listing the cargo, passengers, and crew of a vessel. This document can be used to identify passengers in case of accidents and to have accountability for travelers. While the companies have been asked to comply with a manifest, none are actually doing it. “I don’t see why these boat companies cannot have a manifest. Maya Island Air, Tropic Air and San Pedro Water Jets all have a manifest for all their runs. This is a safety measure that needs to be taken. With the growing number of people traveling to the island, there needs to be some sort of document to record the entries and exits. Since they are not working with us, then we will start pressuring them to comply with the manifest,” said Deputy Mayor Nuñez. An ultimatum will be given to the companies in the coming months. “We want tourism to grow, thus we need all travel agents to promote safety and accountability. If something were to happen in any of the vessels’ voyages, there is no means to say who was on that boat. The companies can simply ask customers to present an identification card when buying tickets. This would give a sense of who is traveling with them and would solve various liability issues,” said Inspector Jemmott. The boat manifest has been in discussion for the past year, but has not yet been realized.
On a final note, the San Pedro Police Department would like to ask residents for kind donations towards the department’s Christmas program for the less fortunate. Person are asked to donate clothes, non-perishable food products, toys and other gift items. The items will be used to create Christmas hampers to be given to the less fortunate families of Ambergris Caye. Donations can be dropped off at the San Pedro Police Station on Pescador Drive or contact Inspector Jemmott at 206-2022 or 600-6423 for pick-ups.
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