B.P.D. Releases Official Crime Stats for 2019

The final numbers are in for the crimes committed in 2019 and the Belize Police Department says that major crimes were down this year. In the murder category, there were nine fewer than 2018. According to the department, most of the murders were committed with firearms and in rural locations. Commissioner Chester Williams says that they will be making some adjustments to their strategies and stepping up enforcement to curb crime this year. Today, the Commissioner spoke with the media about last year’s crimes. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Police Department says that major crimes were down overall in 2019. The records, according to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, show a decrease of ten percent when compared to 2018. The murder numbers compiled by police for 2019 show a total of one hundred and thirty-four homicides committed -  nine fewer than 2018’s murder count.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“We do have a decrease compared to the previous four years and we are seeing that the number one cause is alcohol consumption; followed by drugs; followed by gang related and then domestic violence. So, those are the four main causes of murders for 2019.”

The 2019 crime statistics also show that violent crimes, including murders, were more common in rural than urban areas. Commissioner Williams says this shift in geographic location means that they have to adjust their crime fighting strategies.

Chester Williams

“We have also seen that the violence has shifted from the urban areas to rural areas. We have seen that a number of murders for 2019 took place in rural communities as opposed to within the towns and cities. It does pose a challenge to us and we now have to see how we develop a strategy to address the crime in the rural areas. One of the things that we will be doing to address that is the composite patrols. They will be going into the rural areas where the problems are more prevalent.”

Notably, there are seventeen or so fewer murders recorded in the Belize District in 2019 when compared to 2018. Commissioner Williams says this decrease in murders committed in the city is the lowest in four years.

Chester Williams

“Belize City has the lowest murder count since 2015. So, the officers of Belize City performed really well under the command of ACP Dawson.   While Belize City performed well, Belize District performance was very poor. In the Ladyville area, murders went up by over a hundred percent and so while there was a huge reduction in Belize City, Ladyville bit off a huge chunk and brought Belize district numbers still down but not as high as it would have been. I think that at the end of the year, Belize district had a reduction of seventeen but that could have been far more than seventeen had the performance in the rural area been a bit better.  Belize district has an overall reduction in every category of crime that include murders and major crimes in a whole. Belize City major crime went down by one hundred and thirty-four compared to the same period last year.   The gang activity was very low in 2019 compared to other years. So, while we are always ready to vilify the gang members, we are seeing that they are not the main contributing factor to our murder count this year. The murder count, the greater numbers are attributed to persons like me and you who under normal circumstances would have been seen or act reasonably but after consuming alcohol our behavior alters and we behave in a different manner.”

What haven’t changed are the types of weapon being used to commit these murders. Firearms were used to commit most of the homicides in 2019.

Chester Williams

“Additionally we have also seen from the crime trend, that from the total number of murders committed, eighty-nine were committed with firearms; nineteen with knives and seventeen with machetes.  So, those are things again that we have to focus on especially when it comes to persons who are drinking and have with them pointed or edge tools or firearm; so that is another area we have to concentrate on with a view to see how we can really and truly positively impact the crime rate for 2020.”

Murders up in South and West; Major Crimes Down

As you heard in the story, there were more murders committed in the rural parts of the country than in the urban settings for 2019. While the murders were down in Belize City – there was a hundred percent increase in other areas like Ladyville. But how did the rest of the country do? According to the police department, murders were up in the west and south but overall, major crimes were down. Here’s more from Commissioner Williams.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“In the north, the northern region, the murder count remains the same. It evened off. Overall, the major crime went up in the north by three percent. In the west, the murder count went up by six but other crimes went down, so while the murders are up in the west the overall major crime picture is down. In the south, murder went up by twenty-five percent in the south but other major crimes went down. So, again, just like the west, there is an increase in murder but the overall major crime is down.”

ComPol Shares Stats for Other Crimes Committed in 2019

And other crimes, such as unlawful sexual intercourse were up while robberies, burglaries and theft decreased in 2019 when compared to 2018. Commissioner Chester Williams told the press today that crimes against women and children were also low for last year.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Sex crime is up, particularly unlawful sexual intercourse. I think those are up by sixty-six percent but again you will know that those are things that occur within a home and those are not things that the police can really and truly police. Rape is also up slightly. Burglary, robberies and theft are down.”

Andrea Polanco

“What would you say the numbers look like for the numbers committed against women and/or children?”

Chester Williams

“It is not as bad. It is extremely low. A very low percentage was against women and children. And, for the most part, when we do have against women it is within a domestic setting – under the domestic category. So, it is not as much as it was up – it is down significantly.”

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