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Marty Offline OP
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Minister of Police and Public Safety Doug Singh took up his office on June third amidst tremendous public expectation. But the first blush of hype and hope has worn off and a crime - battered public wants results - they want to feel safer.

But there's no magic wand for a crime culture whose roots run deep into our everyday existence Additionally, fixing a department staffed with 1,200 cops is no small task.

Today, we spoke at length to the police minister about the daunting tasks. We'll present his interview in two parts. In the first part tonight, he discusses the department's culture of corruption.

Hon. Doug Singh, Minister of Police
"I think the primary, if I can identify a primary problem is a problem of confidence and a problem of trust between the public and the police department and I start there, it may look like a little issue but it's a tremendous issue because everything leads to that, or that loss of confidence is as a result of a lot of malfunctionz throughout the system. There are several reasons for that loss of confidence: corruption within the department. If we are unable to do something about that I think we will never be able to get the public confidence to a certain level."

Jules Vasquez
"Everybody in the police department knows that they are politically connected people who are untouchable who can't be searched, who can't be stopped, who can't be detained, who can't be held and if they are, you will get a call from 'minister.'"

Hon. Doug Singh
"I think that to a certain extent that since I've been the minister, I've not issued any calls to stop anybody from being arrested and I've not been asked to refrain from taking actions."

Jules Vasquez
"And if you were asked?"

Hon. Doug Singh
"If I was asked, I will seriously have to question the direction. First of all, you give me the evidence that that person shouldn't be, if there is plausible enough evidence that they should be, you ought to do it. Nobody should be exempt from it. Absolutely no one should be exempt from it."

Jules Vasquez
"However you the responsible minister may not make the call, there is an entire political directorate, that any minister can call and ask a police man or officer."

Hon. Doug Singh
"I personally believe that we need to enact certain pieces of legislations that hold politicians liable or anyone liable for interfering with the legal process, that if there is any evidence that you have interfered with the arrest of an individual or due process, that the police department exercise, that you, your name gets entered into a record and that charges can be laid against you. I believe that that is necessary and I believe that then police will have the confidence to execute their task without feeling the political pressures to bear. It must become necessary at some point in time."

Jules Vasquez
"Minister, you are the chairman of a mass party. I want to say you can't really know how politics works."

Hon. Doug Singh
"No, but I have to wear the hat in this particular role. If I am serious about it, It didn't take the job as the minister of police because I am the chairman of a mass party and because I am just being put there as a yes man. If that was the situation my answer would have been no. The Prime Minister gave me his reasons why he made the selection or why he believes that I am capable of doing it. And if I do anything other than what his expectations are I have disappointed him and I have disappointed an entire country. Now what do I want to be remembered for ultimately, to be a very good chairman of a political party or a very effective minister of police? I think the answer is clear on that one. There is a very big difference that you can make in people's life and in the country's life."

Jules Vasquez
"Good officers, committed officers feel that: A: There work is undervalued or not respected. B: The system it doesn't care for them, they don't receive their allowances for when they are transferred. Their uniform allowances for those who have to wear plain clothes. They don't have any type of insurance. They are treated like security guards but expected to uphold the security of an entire state. "

Hon. Doug Singh
"And they are correct, in some instances they are correct. Let me give you an example; the officer that was shot yesterday morning I believe it was, the robbery at the store on Water Lane. That officer is in the hospital, there is a fund, a welfare fund for officers that can be dip into for officers that end up in circumstances like that. Our public system ought to be more supportive. Police officers need to have a greater sense of security to know that if they are going to put their lives on the line that there is a support system that will help them there."

"But I think beyond that we are talking about everyday living, I don't believe officers are compensated as well as they should be compensated, having said that though I don't think we get as much out of many police officers as we should. I think we must get to the situation or to the place where police officers feel that they can make a difference. I think to a certain extent some of them absolutely don't feel that. We must get to that place, and we are not going to get by shouting and threatening, that's not going to happen. We need to show that we are giving them some of the support system they need as much as the expectation from them."

"There are simple things; if you ever been to the Queen Street police station and walk into that yard it looks like a garbage pile, it's nasty; there are wrecked vehicles all over the place, some of them have been sitting there for 3-4 years. They don't have to be there, we need to find an appropriate way to remove that stuff to improve the facility. I look at senior police officers with their guts hanging out and I say that literally, out of shape, overweight, they inspire nobody. I think that's a problem in the BDF too, they inspire no one. They need to have a sense of discipline and practice that sense of discipline. We need to get a proper police gym and hold them accountable for their performance in particular the senior people who look like they have no discipline on how they consume food or personal attire. I think these are things, if they don't feel that way about themselves, then how can they expect anybody to feel that way about them? And it starts there."

Jules Vasquez
"Indeed it does start there but from my experience with officers at the middle level or lower level constables. It seems that there is a cancer at the core; I've seen that compound cleaned up before. Jorge Espat cleaned that up in the late 90's. I'm saying that the cancer....those are outward manifestations, but those are symptoms of a deeper problem."

Hon. Doug Singh
"Agreed, but if you don't deal with the symptoms along with addressing the problem, you are not going to go anywhere because some of it is going to return. In other words how you deal with a problem and I know you don't mean the storage of the vehicle I know you mean a whole internal attitude with respect with how the police operates."

In the next part of that interview which airs tomorrow, we'll ask Singh about the future of police commissioner Crispin Jeffries and the issue of public safety as well as rogue police activity...

Channel 7

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,538
Policemen too FAT�says Minister of Police

[Linked Image] As the crime wave in Belize City continues unabated and the streets run red with blood after almost daily murders and shooting, Belizeans wait anxiously for the rollout of Prime Minister Barrow's much lauded Operation Restore Belize which was presented with much fanfare and trademark Barrow glitz and glamour. The short lived Operation Jaguar was declared extinct a month ago and the city has once again become a warzone with residents rendered prisoners in their own homes. The Prime Minister has gone mute, but his Minister of Police certainly has not. In an interview with local media house Channel 7, Doug Singh revealed his solution to fighting crime in Belize.

According to Singh, who said absolutely nothing about Operation Restore Belize, his plan to reduce the violence in the city is simple. What the Police Department needs, the Minister said, is a gym where officers can get whipped into shape, particularly senior officers. The nation has acknowledged that crime is a monumental problem which will require a visionary and multi-pronged approach if there are to be any inroads made - but Doug Singh says that the problem is that Policemen are just too fat and sloppy. In the interview, he stated - "I look at senior police officers with their guts hanging out and I say that literally, out of shape, overweight, they inspire nobody�we need to get a proper police gym and hold them accountable for their performance, in particular the senior people who look like they have no discipline on how they consume food or personal attire."

While Belizeans may not have known what to expect from the new Minister of Police with regard to his plan to provide citizens with more security and attack crime on the streets, the attack on Police Officers' weight and attire was certainly not expected. While residents of the city await a comprehensive approach to deal with escalating crime and violence, the new Police Minister talks about fat Police Officers and officers who dress sloppy and the need for a new Police gym. What then of Operation Restore Belize which was to be spearheaded by this new and dynamic minister (or so said his boss Mr. Barrow)?

The interview with Mr. Singh proves what the Opposition and a majority of Belizeans have been claiming all along - the Prime Minister is not serious about fighting crime. Operation Restore Belize was only a publicity stunt which will yield nothing in the long run. Well maybe it will yield a new Police gym, but certainly no relief to residents who have been overwhelmed by crime.

Live and let live
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,538
Chubby cops need to lighten up; no offense says minister

[Linked Image] Minister Singh also says he wants to give the Police Department a complete overhaul and that will include officers who are on the heavy side a leaner look. Today he told us that his line last week about "cops with their guts hanging out" was not meant to offend anyone but merely to urge them to lighten up.

Doug Singh, Minister of Police

"It was in context of a whole respect and disciplinary structure that I think policemen must operate under. They must be able to gain respect from the general public and I have heard it out there where people make comments that that policeman couldn't chase me anywhere. Unfortunately it's a problem and there are many reasons for the problem. There are fitness requirements within the Police Department that I do not believe is being exercised or being executed the way it should be. There are good policemen that may not be in the best of shape and there are other policemen who may be not so good that may not be in the best of shape. I'd hate to lose my staff over an issue like that, but I do want to challenge them to improve on that and to a great extent they don't have the kid of resources to do it - to join a gym. They don't have a gym facility to be able to take care of themselves and I am committed to try to do what I can to ensure that those facilities go in place to help to develop the kind of healthy lifestyle that's good for them and good for the department."

Marion Ali

"Right now it's just a criticism. After this, will it be a requirement?"

Doug Singh

"We will have to re-evaluate the process because I'm told that there's a fitness process and then I'm getting yes, it exists. I said is it enforced? I'm going like yes - and then I hear no. So I'm not really sure what the answer is but certainly I need to get to the bottom of it."

Restoring Belize will take time

[Linked Image]In May and June the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow introduced plans to take back the streets from criminals with a programme called Operation Restore Belize. The objective was to chart a way forward after consultation with various sub-committees, whose jobs will be to monitor and assist in implementing new initiatives in deterring crime. It's is a slow process, says newly appointed Minister of Police, Doug Singh, but is designed to take on a holistic approach that will have long-term effects.

Doug Singh, Minister of Police

"The work is pretty well underway but don't expect to see any immediate results as a result of Restore Belize. Restore Belize is an approach that is multi-pronged. It really seeks to deal with some of the root causes. Restore Belize is not talking about going out and policing he city immediately to deal with criminal activities. It's talking about putting in systematic approaches in place, putting the enabling legislation that will perhaps improve the conviction rate, putting together the restructuring of the Police Department that will build community policing, build the different structures that are necessary to have effective policing."

While the programme will not have any overnight results to reduce crime, the Department has also just been taken in a new recruit that will be mostly dispatched to Belize City to help in fighting the crime wave.

Belizeans for Justice postpone press conference amidst threats

[Linked Image] Following receipt of a death threat on Tuesday by an executive of the group Belizeans for Justice the newly installed Minister of Police, Doug Singh, gave the organization his assurance that a press conference at the Radisson which was initially scheduled for today would be secured by members of the police department. While the public has expressed its outrage at what most consider to be practice after race, founder Yolanda Shakron says they would not proceed as scheduled despite the minister's word.

Yolanda Shakron, Founding Member, Belizeans for Justice

"We have rescheduled this press conference for next Tuesday at the same time at the Radisson. We have gotten, I have gotten a phone call from the CEO in the Ministry of Police, Mr. Lovell, and he said that he will provide us with security and so we decided that we will have a meeting with the executive this afternoon but I have spoken to everyone and they have decided that we will do it for next Tuesday."

Isani Cayetano

"How do you interpret this situation in light of the fact that it had to be ventilated in the media before the minister and his ministry could step in to provide some kind of security for your event that was scheduled?"

Yolanda Shakron

"I believe that whoever is behind these threats it's coming from, I can't pinpoint but I think it's from within the police department because I believe that they know that we were going to have this press conference and they knew that, you know, we were going to be asking for the removal of Mr. Jeffries."

The press conference which has been deferred until Tuesday of next week will address the escalating crime situation and the organization will present recommendations to reduce the numbers of crime being committed in the city. Among those recommendations is a request for the removal of Police Commissioner Crispin Jeffries.

Live and let live

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