What's caused the major downturn in major crime since February of this year? Some people say it's all the jobs created by the street works, other say its January's George Street slaying, but the police, they maintain that it's the introduction of precinct policing. That came along in March - and we found out the difference it makes:..

ACP Miguel Segura, OC Eastern Division
"They cannot do policing the same way we were doing many years ago. We could give them 100-150 personnel and do the same thing over and over again. We need to move along. Just like technology change, we need to change."

Jules Vasquez reporting
That's the thinking that force the adoption of precinct policing which is built upon a rather simple principle - de-centralizing services:

ACP Miguel Segura
"The concept of precinct policing is the de-centralizing of the service first of all and putting the resources where the problem lies."

Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police
"What do we need to do to be able to bring the services to the citizen?"

Now you'd probably never see a police station as a service center but that's the new mindset:

ACP Miguel Segura
"This is the service demand on one end and this is my assets. If this gap becomes bigger it's because maybe my assets are low. I need to improve to narrow the gap to an acceptable standards."

That means having police available and in a position to solve problems, not worsen them:

ACP Miguel Segura
"The mentality of officers is here to help, to guide, to assists, a problem solver, people could give you advice."

Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police
"It would have officers readily available on the streets. There would be increase police visibility on the streets. I could see improvements in our community policing efforts. I could also see improvements in response to crime."

The de-centralization meant changing the entire structure of the police command systems in eastern division:

Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police
"Initially there was some resistance at the senior level. Some persons thought that I was breaking up the crimes branch, special branch, and traffic branch and there was resistance."

ACP Miguel Segura
"In case of Belize City, precincts 1 and 2 are on the Southside. Based on the statistics and our indicators, that's where our resources are."

But the de-centralization has made for more effective policing a fact supported by statistics which show a sharp decrease in major crime:

Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police
"Each commander were given their resources in terms of human and vehicular resources and other equipment as best as we were able to provide for them. They now had to manage and be accountable to the officer commanding Eastern Division who would be able to say the level of their policing, their crime fighting strategies, the community policing been put in place.

It also allowed the commanders, because they have a smaller geographic area to now be responsible for to take a more hands-on approach."

But it's not just precinct policing, there's also a new management system in Eastern Division called COMSTAT which demands regular strategic and tactical assessment and reporting:

ACP Miguel Segura
"That's where we come and strategize, tasking are given and they go back. If they are in the red in certain areas; to say what strategy you are to use to bring back or to reduce or eliminate acceptable standards those crimes in your area."

And that is backed up by a statistical monitoring system called SIMS:

ACP Miguel Segura
"The SIMS; that is the crime information management system that everything is now computerized; database, analysis. It's a lot of things that are working. We can do overview of how the SIMS work; one click of a button and you could do analysis so quick. I could tell you how many burglaries occurred, in what month and where it happened. We are moving along with technology."

And while police are riding a wave of success, we must remember that it's based on only a 6 month trend. And, in this, we are reminded that correlation is not causation, but after being the punching bag for all social ills for so long, right now police will take credit anyway they can get it:

Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police
"I truly Belize that the precinct policing has made all the difference within Belize City."

Police are considering how they can extend the precinct model, or elements of it to the districts.

Channel 7