The police department today received a hefty donation courtesy of the United States Embassy. It involves a brand new fleet of vehicles valued at more than two million dollars. The US Charge d’ Affaires, Margaret Hawthorne, says that the heavy duty trucks will be used to improve citizen security. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on hand for the ceremonies.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
A fleet of thirty-eight vehicles, mostly Ford F150 heavy duty trucks, was today handed over to the Belize Police Department by the United States Embassy. The donation, valued at approximately two and a half million dollars, is part of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). The vehicles, which have been deployed to various parts of the country within the department, will see an increase in mobility, visibility and quick response.
Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security
“It is important that we continue to demonstrate that we are committed to do our part to ensure effective use of the aid to meet our objectives. For that we must take the necessary steps to ensure good husbandry of these gifted vehicles and have them serve us for a long time. Care must be taken to manage our now acquired resources in a sustainable manner and most importantly we plan and execute our operations bearing in mind our budgetary limitations. I know that we have thirty-eight new vehicles that have been assigned to us but I, as the accounting officer, must be real when it comes to the logistics to ensure the effective use of these vehicles. I do not have and neither does the Government of Belize’s Ministry of Finance does not have a bottomless pit from which we pull our financial resources.”
The reality is that after a few months a great deal of those vehicles will have already been experiencing the effects of wear and tear. Their deployment across the country will see them complimenting an existing nationwide fleet.
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police
“As the C.E.O. said in his remarks, it’s not a bottomless pit the Ministry of Finance has for these things but we believe that despite the fact that they are six and eight cylinders they are new vehicles so they should be highly efficient in terms of fuel. As I said, the commanders will have to ensure that they are properly utilized to ensure that there are no wastages. As I said in my comments they are issued to various sections and they are to be used for official duties, they are not to be taken home and we believe that once the commanders ensure proper command and control and movements of these vehicles we should be able to maintain them within our budget.”
Thus far, previous vehicles donated through CARSI have assisted tremendously in facilitating mobile patrols in Belize City, resulting in a significant decrease in crime. That particular example has led to an expansion of the initiative.
Margaret Hawthorne, Charge d’ Affaires, U.S. Embassy
“These vehicles are actually designed for citizen security here in Belize. They are designed to help the police department provide the secure environment in which people can grow and prosper, can open businesses, do business and so it has a huge impact on economic development and on people’s wellbeing when they have a secure environment in which to operate. So these vehicles are really designed again for the people of Belize to help the police department, community policing and quick response time so that the police can get, when somebody makes a call the police can get there quickly.”
Since 2009, the United States Embassy has implemented over fifteen million dollars in CARSI-related initiatives in Belize. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
US Donates 38 Pickups
Today in Belmopan, the US Embassy handed over 38 new full size Ford pickups to the police department. It's part of the US Government's Central American Regional Security Initiative, known as CARSI. And while the last major donation of vehicles came two years ago in the form of smaller Ford Rangers, those are reaching their limit, so the new trucks come just in time. Now, the Commissioner says, there can be no excuses for not responding to the public:
Monica Bodden Reporting
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police
"This contribution today will significantly improve the resources of each and every police formation."
The 38 vehicles cost 2.3 million dollars and will be deployed to formations and units across the country with emphasis on crime investigation, community policing, quick response, and the K9 Units."
Margaret Hawthorne - Charge d' Affaires, U.S. Embassy
"By working together, we can push back against criminal elements, build stronger communities, help serve and protect the Belizean people and promote economic growth in a secure environment."
This donation surpasses the last one from June 2012, when the US donated 17 Rangers. That donation is viewed as a success because major crime went down in 2013.
"It's been a tremendous decrease in crime last year, and we're hoping that this will continue, and we hope that these vehicles will assist that effort."
And now these heavier, mostly Ford F-150 pickups, are extension of the partnership on security between the US and Belize.
Ret. Col. George Lovell - C.E.O., Ministry of National Security
"These vehicles that we are receiving here today, that is estimated to value 2.5 million dollars will allow more efficient execution of our security forces functions for a long time to come."
And to keep the US engaged, Belizean authorities are stressing on care, maintainance and proper use."
"I'm very serious; we have been clamouring quite some time for vehicles. We've been asking for the handing over of those vehicles. It is here today, and you, regional commanders, formation commanders, precinct commanders, are responsible to ensure that they are properly utilized.
Ret. Col. George Lovell
"It is important that we continue to demonstrate that we are committed to do our part to ensure effective use of the aid to meet our objectives. For that we must take the necessary steps to ensure good husbandry of these gifted vehicles and have them serve us for a long time.
"Commander Administration has been charged by me that where there are abuse and damages, somebody will pay."
But Government will also have to pay, a heavy gas bill for these larger pickups.
Ret. Col. George Lovell
"I know that we have 38 new vehicles that have been assigned to us, but I as the accounting officer must be real when it comes to the logistics to ensure the effective use of these vehicles. I do not have - and neither does the Government of Belize Ministry of Finance - a bottomless pit from which we pull our financial resources. And so, I want to caution that we bear this in mind."
"We know that you all are used to 4 cyclinder diesel engines in the Mahindras, Hiluxs, and the Dmaxs, but a lot of these are 6 and 8 cylinders."
"But, we believe that despite the fact that they are 6 and 8 cylinders, they are new vehicles, so they should be highly efficient in terms of fuel. As I said, the commanders will have to ensure that they are properly utilized."
And so, the message to the public is, don't be reluctant to call 911
"We have to provide 24 hours' service, and we cannot tell the people that we do not have vehicles."
Whylie could not tell us what percentage of the last set of 17 Ranger pickups are still road worthy.