REPORT #7 1998
PHILOSOPHY OF POLICE SYSTEMS AND COMPARATIVE STUDIES OF THE ROLE OF
POLICE SYSTEMS FOR THE SOCIETY OF BELIZE, CENTRAL AMERICA.
the debate on the Belize Cultural List serve.
You are missing the whole point. Of course you need the police. A
police force, but my contention is that you require a police that is
obedient to the voters in the community in which they serve. Police have
discretion. In Belize this discretion comes from an absentee colonial
power in Belmopan. In the USA, this control comes from the local, city,
town, or village citizens. They ELECT their police chief and then hire
policeman. There are various variations on this basic fundamental of
democracy. But in essence a police officer first has to be from the
community in which he or she serves. This means they have a finger on
the temper and pulse of the community. The elected chief, means if
enough voters say they want to play hardball with the drug addicts and
thieves like in Belize, then they do so with community consent. But if
they find it offensive, the police chief then advises his constables to
go easy on the saturday night barn dance where the teenagers are drinking
beer illegally. He will then be in another part of town, or doing
something else like traffic tickets. This discretion reflects the mores
and desires of the voters in a town.
The incident in the port on Channel 5 and repeatedly around the country
is a military organization obeying not the community standards, but the
rules set by an absentee authority in Belmopan. In other words they are
treating towns and villages as some monolithic whole as in Colonial Law.
A town like Belize City the port and other places, needs to elect their
own chief and run their own police force. The way to do this is to for
the central government to figure out how much they are spending on police
services under the present system in Belmopan, for Belize City, Orange
Walk, etc. services in each community. Then give the City or Town
Council a GRANT for that amount and tell them to hire their own police
force. The national government can then offer training and such.
The town council then should have an election for a two year Police
Chief and the job openings for policemen would be opened and hiring done
by a qualifications job description and selected by a physical and civil
service exam. Highest grades by an independent committee ( contestants
unknown, covered by a NUMBER assigned for the selection process) is then
hired. The police chief runs for election each two years, but the
constables are permanent. They can add to the budget, pay less, or shift
hours and shifts were the Town Council gets feedback from the voters in
the town on where and when and how they went the police to function.
There is a separation of powers thus by an elected chief and the elected
town council. The police thus have it in their means to go after crooked
town councilors as criminals as well if necessary. Generally, from my
observations there are regular meetings between the town council who
might be getting citizen complaints and requests and also the police
chief, all of whom want to serve their town citizen voters, in order to
get elected again and keep their job.
If the citizens of the port want the police, their OWN police to play
hardball with gangs, they will let the elected officials know. If they
want more equitable law applications they will know that too. Also a
Town Council can review the pay scales and spread the GRANT money around
and maybe hire more police for troublesome shift times, resources can be
more easily shifted on an hours notice with local control. Volunteers
can work along with the town police when needed, what is called deputies
( non paid ), additional money can be pulled from say the Parks
Department budget to put on extra police when they have a troublesome
hotspot and so on.
The fact of the matter is, the police in Belize are regarded as both
the enemy and the helper, depending on circumstances. To build a law
abiding community you need locals running and being the police, not
somebody from another part of the country with no vested interest, whose
allegiance is to a shifting body politic in the capital of Belmopan.
The pervasive corruption that goes with a centralized government
convinces the ordinary citizen of Belize that there is no longer any law,
moral or civil, criminal or protective. The opinion is that force is the
law and that force emanates from a controlling cabinet via the
controlling winning political party on a national scale, who are above
the law. Law is perceived to be two tiered in Belize. The
disenfranchised and those politically connected. The police system in
Belize was based on a corrupt monarchy system and we are not talking
about individual honest policemen trying to do their job properly, but
the framework and structure within this work is done.
There are colleges galore that study the philosophy of law and order
how it should be applied. The present structure of Belize police force
is solely about power, and centralized control, not serving the people.
You have to fundamentally philosophize about who should control the
police? A central absentee government, or should the police respond to
the control of the citizens whom they are supposed to serve?
I hope only to open a debate on the philosophy of law and order and
change the climate and present system which historically around the world
is non functional by many, many ex-British Colonial police force
Produced by the Belize