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#508294 - 10/16/15 11:01 AM COMPOL Says Take Down The Checkpoints
Marty Offline

COMPOL Says Take Down The Checkpoints

Police checkpoints - we all have to live with them - and while they may be inconvenient, they've become a way of life…a welcome one for some who see the checkpoints as a necessary evil when living in a crime-ridden society. And that's why there's been an uproar from some corners today when an internal police memorandum was leaked. The memorandum was sent out on Tuesday form the Commissioner of Police and it directs all formation commanders to quote, "stand down on vehicle checkpoints countrywide." The memorandum explains that any commander needing a checkpoint must first consult with the commissioner of police. The deputy leader of the PUP told us via phone today that the opposition is concerned that this is being done so close to the election:..

Hon. Julius Espat, Deputy Leader - PUP
"We are very concerned because we are having a lot of movement of people in all constituencies. We understand that at this time, election time, there are people crossing the borders and we would like the police to have more vigilance instead of less vigilance. So it concerns us that at this critical point the police has decided to not have checkpoints and we would like some answers from the commissioner of police as to why this directive was given and what's the reasoning behind it. We want to have answers. We need to have answers. The people of Belize needs to know the rationale behind it."

And while we couldn't speak to the commissioner of police about it - we did speak to the CEO in the Ministry of Naito0nal security George Lovell who told us the directive is being blown completely out of proportion. Lovell said the checkpoints are being removed only because there have been numerous complaints about the inconvenience and time lost it causes to commuters and bus passengers who have to deal with lengthy delays and quote, "traffic backed up for miles." He said removing the checkpoints will make the police no less effective in carrying out their functions of maintaining law and order and preventing crime. He stressed that police will continue to have vehicle patrols and there will still be random checks and stops. When we asked him if it was a directive to the commissioner from the political directorate, Lovell said that as CEO he has spoken directly to the Commissioner about the inconvenience of the checkpoints.

Today, we spoke to the commander of the eastern division Southside about the checkpoints and he told us his soutshside checkpoints will remain in position:..

Sr. Supt Chester Williams - Commander, Eastern Division Southside
"If you would notice when you drive around Southside precinct one and two, we have a checkpoint at Mayflower, we have a checkpoint at Mahogany Street, we have a checkpoint at Linda Vista, we have a checkpoint at Freedom Street. All of those checkpoints are still in place. If you'd notice that the checkpoints are take down, are not those that are used as crime fighting. But those checkpoints are for other reasons and you will recall that the checkpoints that were placed at the various bridge approach, on the northern approach on the bridges - that the people of Belize City had serious issues with it, because some were saying that it was discriminatory in nature because it was only targeting Southside. Some were saying that it causes them great inconvenience when they want to move from Northside to Southside, because of the long line of traffic that is normally backed up as the police officers conduct these checkpoints and I have received a number of complaints about them. I am certain that the commissioner received far more complaints than I do and again the commissioner saw the need to respond to the concerns of the people and as a result of that directly, that the police slowdown from conducting checkpoints for now."

Monica Bodden
"You don't think this has anything to do with elections being near?"

Sr. Supt Chester Williams
"I really don't think it have anything to do with that. I just think that it's a matter the commissioner responding to the concerns of the people of the city of Belize who have been complaining that they were arriving at work late. They get home late because of the long line they have to wait in."

Police who regularly man checkpoints tell us that the random bus searches have produced many marijuana seizures.

Channel 7


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#508348 - 10/18/15 11:12 AM Re: COMPOL Says Take Down The Checkpoints [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Checkpoint lift causing security concerns out near border

There has been much concern over the Police Commissionerís decision to lift all checkpoints country-wide and now one San Ignacio resident claims Guatemalan bandits were almost able to get away with his vehicle on Friday night because of it.

According to Nigel Espat, he was socializing at the Sunset Bar in San Ignacio with a group friends around 7:00 p.m. when they exited the establishment and as he approached his 2007 Isuzu D-Max a Hispanic man ran up to him and pushed a nine-millimeter pistol in his face. Espat said the man demanded his keys and his phone so he gave up both.

As the man with the gun got in, Espat said, two other came running from across the street and got in the truck before they sped off. After the bandits fled in the truck, Espat got into another one of his friendís car and the group set chase, calling the police as they did so.

According to Espat, the bandits drove towards Bullet Tree, where there is usually a checkpoint set up but since the Commissionerís orders, the checkpoint has been removed. He said, though, that eventually police mobiles caught up with them and helped to pursue the D-Max along with them.

The truck was found abandoned shortly after, bogged in mud about half a mile from the Guatemala border, he said. The police did a quick search of the area but it was dark and raining hard so they men managed to escape. Espat, however, said that if the checkpoint were in place, he believes the men would have been caught.

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has also voiced its concern over the Commissioner of Policeís directive to lift all checkpoints across the country fearing it may facilitate the black market.

BCCI President Arturo Vasquez said he had voiced the Chamberís concerns over the decision with Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Thursday and was assured that the checkpoints would be restored after election day.

The Chamber called on the government to continue all possible measures to mitigate the detrimental effects of the black market on local businesses. They added that the recent suspension of vehicular checkpoints opens the doors for a plague of contraband and illicit goods to be transported uninterrupted throughout the country as well as continued human trafficking.

The Chamber agreed that the current method of checkpoints causes undue delay and excess fuel consumption for commuters and freight transport but saidhe Police Department, rather than completely suspending all checkpoints, should seek a solution that allows for effective monitoring and interception of illicit movements without excessive gridlock.

The Reporter

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