San Pedro Security Gets Senior Step Up
At the end of June when San Pedro tour guide Mario Graniel and his guest, American doctor and Gary swing were killed during a fly fishing tour, it sent San Pedro into a tailspin.
The community reeled from the brazen ruthlessness of the murder which was committed on the open water, and from the spinoff effects as tourist cancelled their upcoming vacations en masse.
The state and the police department responded with the commitment to beef up the Island's tourism police unit - and they delivered on that today, in less than two months.
Today they introduced the new officers on the island:
Supt. Chris Noble - OC, San Pedro
"As the master of ceremony said, brand new, so San Pedro is brand new. Brand new OC, brand new tourism police, brand new equipment and it come all for San Pedro so that we can make San Pedro a little better."
Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"Today is indeed a historic moment for us and more so for the people of San Pedro. We know that it was just a few weeks ago we were here on this same court discussing the issue of crime and what we would be doing to ensure that we address the crime issue in San Pedro and I know that night when myself and the minister spoke, some might have said well they come with words again and they'll be no action to back up those words. Well we're back here again today to demonstrate the government's commitment to ensure the safety of the people of San Pedro as well as our guests who visits this beautiful island of San Pedro. What we have done over the past few weeks was to recruit a number of tourism police officers who you are seeing in front of you today. There are some of them; we actually recruited 23. Of the 23, 13 came to San Pedro - so the 13 are added to the additional 4 that were already here bringing the San Pedro number to 17. We understand some of the difficulties that tourists have when they come to this island with persons begging them, selling them drugs, begging them for money, shaking them down - we want those things to stop."
"We expect that you are going to be out here and will be good ambassadors of the Belize Police Department. We don't want any complaints of corruption. Don't accept bribe from nobody because the minute you accept from one, you are going to accept from others. Do not accept alcohol from nobody because again, alcohol is going to get you in trouble. We want that you will be out here to perform your duties to the best of your ability. We want that you are going to contribute to the safety and security of San Pedro. The equipment that are going to be handed over today include motorcycles, golf carts and while one golf cart came to San Pedro, we actually got 3 golf carts. One went to Placencia and one went to Caye Caulker. So both Placencia and Caye Caulker also got golf carts. Placencia also got motorcycles, Caye Caulker got none but we have for San Pedro, 6 motorcycles - 2 of which will be used by the San Pedro South Neighbourhood watch group. So again, we want to see how we can assist the south neighbourhood watch group to be able to effectively police and patrol that part of the island. We also have air conditioning units, we have firearms, we have computer, printer - so the officers are getting everything that they need to be able to accomplish the task that has been given to them."
Rob Eykelbosch - North Ambergris Caye Neighbourhood Watch
"I'm ecstatic about it, I think this is fabulous. I mean we've got these new officers, they look sharp, their well-dressed, they're going to fit into the tourist mode on the island. So as a group, north neighbourhood watch and the mid island, we all got together and we raised enough money to buy the new jeep and we went and bought it for them. All of us believe that we have to support our local police and we recognize that they can't always get the equipment they need, so with generous donations from hotels and individuals, many individuals up north, we were able to raise enough money to buy the jeep for them without collaboration between business and individuals and police, this island would fall apart. We all have to do our part."
Hon. Manuel Heredia - Minister Of Tourism and Civil Aviation
"I am a little disappointed today with the residence and some of the other organizations that whenever the last murder occurred on the island, you had them in abundance over here crying out that something needs to be done and today the message was loud and clear that we have this for the community, we have this big package over here to offer - yet very few people were here to witness this occasion."
Williams says when the new police recruits pass out later this year, the number of officers in the island's TPU team will go to 22. The TPU are assigned mainly to control criminal movement soon the north of the island.