Last week’s election produced a tectonic political shift in the city - and the high rate of crime definitely a part of the reason why voters rejected the UDP in their power base.
And, now, Belmopan is doing something about it. 7News has learned tonight that major changes are afoot in the police department - and they are mainly geared at re-tooling the Eastern Division southside where there has been a spike in homicides, including one child murdered, and two others shot, all in the past three weeks.
Our sources tell us that Senior Superintendent Marco Vidal is being re-assigned to Special Branch Headquarters in Belmopan after only 7 turbulent months in Belize City. Replacing him on the southside will be Senior Superintendent, Howell Gillett. Gillett made his name in Belmopan for community policing and quick murder arrests. It’s a complete shift in command styles - since Vidal was known for his no nonsense, get-tough paramilitary policing style, while Gillett is known for community confidence building and partnership. Of course, employing that softer style in the concrete jungle of Belize City will be much more challenging than in the Garden City of Belmopan.
Gillett will reportedly be answering to a new Eastern Division commander, who will be ACP Robert Mariano.
And there are also big changes in Belmopan. ACP Chester Williams moves sharply up the command ladder - where he becomes Deputy Commissioner with responsibility for operations. This is considered the second most senior post to the Commissioner, since it deals with all operational units.
He takes over operations from ACP Edward Broaster will also be a Deputy - but in charge of Administration.
ACP Dezeree Phillips leaves the Eastern Division command to take up ACP Mariano’s former post at Headquarters in charge of Management Services. She is the only regional commander who has been moved. All the others remain.
The changes are expected to take place on Monday - and we’ll have more on it then.