On several occasions comments have been made on the salaries and working conditions as well as the resources that often times have proven insufficient for police officers to perform their duties. Love News has learnt that while the officers attached to the Eastern Division South have recently been placed on 9-hour shifts, the powers that be in Belmopan are looking to put back the officers on a 12-hour rotation. It is a long drag for officers who are on foot patrol or those who are dealing with hot spots in the city and with that we were asked by a couple of officers if we could look into the situation. We visited a few of the key locations around the city and spoke to several policemen and women who explained that the 12-hour shift does take a toll on them particularly for those who are forced to commute to other districts. Grace Flowers has lived in the Rocky Road area for the last fifty plus years. She spoke with us today on her observations of the officers who are stationed near her home.
“I think the 12 hour shift is too long for anybody out here to be working because after a while especially the night shift the officers will get tired and sleepy and for their own safety they need to focus. So I think with them changing the shift back as normal that is the better thing for them to do. The higher ups are in their beds and these police are taking their licks out here. I am right here I see when it’s raining this tent is blowing away those police get wet and all kinds of things occur. Those officers really take a beating out here. They need to raise their pay, if the GSU can be getting $500 on the side I don’t know why the regular officers can’t get a raise, commissioner please look into that. The next thing, the briefing a lot of the officers talk to me and they have a problem with that half an hour briefing in the morning and evening. If they brief them in the morning I don’t think they have to do it again at night. They could brief them the following day when they get back to their regular shift. They are taking an hour out of their time when they should be at home with their families. Mr.Wylie its best we stick to the 8 hour shift because the last time when the BDF were patrolling with the police and they were working out here a big gun went missing and nobody from the area took that gun but we took the lick because they got and searched everybody’s area and the gun ended up all the way in Kraal Road so please don’t leave these men working those long hours.”
Flowers says that overall she is very much satisfied that the officers are in the area on a regular basis.
“We don’t have any problems with the police presence in this area because first we couldn’t even come out on the street side when the war was happening. Only if you are doing illegal things then you will have a problem with the police in the area. We feel well secure that the police are in the area right now.”
“They man this area 24/7?”
“Yes. We know that it stops the criminals from coming around here because we used to have problems and with their presence we could live peacefully now. First we couldn’t walk and go to the shop because you would hear gunshots but now everything is normal since Mr.Williams has taken over and is dealing with us. We try to communicate with the officers every so often. I personally have a good relationship with them. If I see something going wrong I try to correct it and I look out for my officers.”
Flowers went on to make her personal plea to the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie on behalf of the officers.
“I would like to ask the Commissioner to please put a better tent out here for the police because many days I watch them get wet sometimes I offer them to come and shelter in my yard but they can’t move because if their supervisor comes and see them out of place they could get in problem. I try to treat our officers good because only that way we will get good out of them. If the set that we have working out here they try really hard to get along with the people that are in their neighborhood we don’t have problems with them so look out for them, we will look out for them too.”
Love News also ventured into the Supal Street area of the city and spoke with a resident on her views, not only about the working hours but as well as her sentiment on having a constant police presence in her area.
“I feel more secure and right now I don’t really know if any neighborhood is really safe but with the police presence you feel a little bit better. It’s unfair for someone to work 12 hours that is a very long shift after a certain amount of hours you will need a break. I think eight hours is enough.”
While the police officers were unable to speak to us on record due to possible ramifications from the department, several of them spoke of their preference for the 9-hour shift where they would work six consecutive days followed by two days off. Three police officers who commute from Belize City to another district told us that they would rather the 12-hour shift where they work for nine consecutive days followed by three days off. When asked about their alternatives to commuting, we were told that the accommodations at Eastern Division North are for those attached to that precinct and that the three hundred dollar monthly allowance would only cover bus fares for the commute.