REPORT #615 February 2003

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

I had a refreshing reminder of the shortcomings of the National British Police System used in Belize this evening on Caye Caulker. Wednesday, 6 p.m., Feb. 26th, 2003. My niece had her eye blackened, some stitches done in her face and a broken arm. Irate, two of my daughters Wendy and Tina had taken her to the island clinic for examination and stitches and she is going to lose a day's work from her job tomorrow and have to go to a hospital in Belize City. Probably the final bill, counting the travel costs, plus medical attention will run around $700. From a physical assault by an ex-boyfriend who is stalking her and threatening her. We are not sure as a family if there is rape involved also, but certainly the stalking and beatings are true enough. The stalker and woman beater is an ex-police constable now working on the island as a tour guide, by the name of Norman Slusher, my niece says. So far, he has beaten my niece I am told by my daughters three different times. He has broken into her house, were she lives with her 76 year old mother, two apparently defenseless women to be victimized by a brutal psycho. In her own house after breaking in, I am told he threatens to kill her with a knife. My niece understandably is deathly afraid and told everybody in the family, the man will eventually kill her. Probably sooner than later! She just wants to have him leave her alone. She will be going to the abuse of women division on the mainland and take out a restraining order, but with a psycho like Norman Slusher, this is not likely to deter this going to an eventual murder.

Unfortunately, leaving her alone, cannot be done by law, or the police. The most the police can do is take a complaint and press charges for grevious harm. Undoubtedly the man might get a small jail term, but afterward would return to this island and kill her. My niece has every right to be afraid.

Now if this was one of my four daughters, I would have no trouble murdering the son-of-a-bitch, or hiring it to be done. I would have an alibi and be in a different country at the time. This is Central America after all, and our British Police system model was made to protect the rulers of the nation, be they originally the King, or Queen, and the aristocrats, and in later years the winning one political party in our current governing system. Police justice in Belize more often does not work than works and anybody with any sense and a little money is far better off in taking things into their own hands.

Originally, my niece was going to press charges, the police on the other hand were complaining it would be to much paper work. Nothing would come of it. Both Tina and myself had a run in with Seargant Pitts who was obviously trying to talk my niece out of pressing charges and causing inconvenience, so he threw us out of the police station. First when Tina objected to his verbally aggressive manner and then when I also objected to what I perceived was an abuse of power against our objections. While Tina and I were thrown out of the police station and my niece left alone in there, Wendy came along and took part and the rest of us went home to cool off. Wendy is more polite and amenable than either Tina or myself, who are confrontational at a perceived aggression and abuse of police powers, true or not. Wendy later reported that Seargant Pitts was professional and handled things properly. So much for first impressions. I had planned to make a hot time over this with the Commissioner of Police. However, after Wendy's report, I decided to drop the issue.

But the fact remains, there is no police, or court protection from stalking and beatings of women and probably eventual murder of my niece. It is all a charade and until she is murdered, the stalker Norman Slusher will continue. After he murders her, he probably will go to trial and be let free on some technicality. He is after all, an ex-policeman and protected to a certain extent by the system. Slusher himself was lectured by the Seargant and told if he did it again, the police would press charges. I'm not sure what the difference is between the police pressing charges on the fourth occurance, or the third. But that is how it stands. My niece with Tina my daughter her cousin, beside her was willing to press charges, she got her courage up. But after Norman Slusher was brought into the police station to give his side, which he admitted to grevious harm because of jealousy and after Tina and I were kicked out, their cousin's courage vacillated and she eventually refused to press charges. As she said afterward, out of fear! There is no man in her house to protect her and her mother. This man breaks into the house regularly through the window.

Out of curiousity, I made some enquiries around the island. There are lots and lots of drug dealers, who are friendly with the police. They play cards and chat together all the time. Tina my daughter thinks the system is useless. Her Bak Pak Hostel is broken into all the time and tourists robbed. She said she was down at the police station every week, making and signing reports, but nobody is ever caught. Finally, she has given up with the police system.

Which brings us in a round-a-bout way to the National British Police system model that is used in Belize. I think it has value at a national level, but not at a local level. I think villages and towns should have the American style of an elected village, or elected town police chief. Answerable, not to the rulers of a politician in Belmopan from the ruling party, but to the voters of the community. Somebody elected and sensitive to local conditions and people. Not strange policemen coming from some remote area of the country with no knowledge or vested interest in community affairs. I think the same police budget, should be given to the Village Council, or Town Council and used to hire local policemen who are residents of the community. I think we need to change the police system in Belize! Nobody in the UDP and the PUP though wants that, for their own reasons as tools of persecution and oppression when they need it when they are in power. I hope the WTP get elected in a week's time. Maybe the new government and group, movement or WTP party, would consider changing the current Belize National Police model to the American style? I hate this current police model inherited from the British.

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