And from misbehaving police officers, we asked the Commissioner to discuss the crime situation generally. Recent statistics released by the department shows that major crimes, including robberies, burglaries, carnal knowledge, theft, and rape are trending down over a three year period. But, in 2015, murders are on pace to set another ugly record.
As we showed you last night, this weekend was particularly violent and 4 persons were killed. In fact, going back to Friday morning, 5 people were murdered in 60 hours - and these aren't just gang killings: the victims include a 68 year old man, a mother of three, and two American men.
So coming up to the middle of May, there have been 54 murders, meaning that 2015 is on track to becoming the most murderous year on record, if the numbers keep going the way they have been. So, can police arrest the situation? Here's what Commissioner Whylie had to say:
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police
"Crime is not an issue that will be solved by the Belize Police Department. It will take each and every individual citizens within Belize, as I've always said, we do not have police officers on every street corner, but we do have citizens who live on every street and so the solution to the crime problem - the kind of information and intelligence we need, rest with the citizens out there. I have always ask for their support to provide those kind of information, to work with us. We've done a number of community policing programs and projects where we are trying to partner with the community. Yes, it's a tough job, I recognized it's a thankless job, but someone has got to do it and I believe that we are up to the challenge and we have been doing the best possible job. We understand that we are not out there doing the crimes. We are trying to prevent the crimes, but crimes is not concentrated in one part of Belize City or one part of the country. As soon as you put things in place to try to neutralize one area, then something occurs and then it occurs somewhere else. What we have been trying to do is build the resiliency, in terms of ensuring that our investigators hit the ground running and that they try to get the best possible evidence to identify the perpetrators - to interdict them and to arrest and charge."
As we've also shown you, a large portion of those murders are believed to be gang related. Do police have any special response to that kind of violent crime? Again, here's the COMPOL:
Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police
"The ability to deal with those issues, we continue to be challenge, because we've not been getting the kind of information or intelligence to be more proactive in terms of preventing. We've seen the splintering within the gangs in Belize City and we've taken a number of steps to neutralize that. As I've said, we've put a number of VCPs in certain areas. We've put out our mobile command center in some areas, we've stepped up on the stop and search. I am certain that as you've been around as well as other citizens have been around, they have seen those officers on the ground. The issue is that the Police Department has got to be right one hundred percent of the time. The criminal only needs one opportunity, one second to be able to do what they do and so as I've always said we will continue to be out there, we will be trying to arrest the situation, but the answer lies with the citizens. The answer lies with the individuals who are involved in these sort of things. There are parents, there are wives, there are husbands whose is aware of what is taking place and most people would say it does not concerns me, but when it reaches their door, then there is cry. We have got to come together collectively as a society to address and deal with this situation. We are out there and we are trying to deal with, but it will take more than the Belize Police Department to get it done."