Home Affairs Minister on the Hundred Day Mark

And we asked the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth industries about his first 100 days in office. Musa said that his main mission has been to change the culture of the police department to make it more community friendly. He has made a few steps towards this but says he is hopeful that much more can be done during the next five years.

Hon. Kareem Musa- Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries
"At least from a Ministry perspective I can tell you that it has been a very fruitful experience for me as the new minister of Home Affairs. We have already instituted some beneficial changes in my opinion. The disbanding of the GSU and the introduction of a new unit- the GI3 that is under way. We have a situation that concerns the welfare of police officers, who as you know are a part of the population most affected by Covid. We had at one point 300 police officers who were suffering with Covid positive. They were Covid positive. Two of our officers died as well from Covid. And so we introduced a ticketing system that limits their interaction with the public. That is something again very positive. We have been liaising with various embassies like the US embassy to come up with a witness protection program. So it is not just limited to the enforcement aspect but also trying to secure convictions in our judiciary. That is something that we are very proud of; working on that type of legislation. And of course over all changing the culture and the approach of police officers. That is something that I find is significant as the new minister of Home Affairs for my particular mandate. Because prior to the election, I can tell you that I have lawsuits, including the loss of my dear friend Allison Major, to the hands of a police officer. And so, when I come to this position, that is my approach. That is the song that I will sing, day in and day out, to my police officers that you have to approach people with respect, with manners. I understand that at times you will be attacked and you have to defend yourself but for the most part we have to be able to change this culture of abuse and brutality within the department. It is not going to happen overnight. A lot of people think that because Kareem is the new minister I am going to change the way 2,200 police officers operate. When in fact this has been something engraved in them for years, for decades. So trying to change that culture is a huge part of my mandate. I look forward to, at the end of these five years, have a reformed police department. We have been cracking down, Courtney, on corrupt police officers, especially those involved in the drug trade. If you would recall from your newscast, two police officers have since been busted transporting cannabis in the country. Police officers were also involved in the plane landing. They have been arrested and charged. And so there is this zero tolerance approach that we want to put in place against corruption and against abuse."

Police Budget Won't Grow, No Funds For New Cops

While Musa works on reforming the department, he will have to do so on a budget. As the government continues its budget consultation, according to the Minister, there will be cuts across all ministries. But he says that while his ministry may not see a lower dollar figure from government, they will not be getting additional funds to pay 200 new officers:

Hon. Kareem Musa- Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries
"As you know we are right now enlisting an additional 225 police officers in the coming weeks and months ahead for training at the Belize Police Training Academy. So you might not be seeing the cut but the fact is we are getting an increase in the number of officers. And so while there will be an increase in the budget we are going to keep that number very very low. Because like I said we are in very austere times and we have to take austere action." Marisol Amaya- Reporter
"A percentage of 15 was thrown out last week in terms of cuts across the board. Is that correct?" Hon. Kareem Musa
"That is something, like I said, it is something that is in discussion but that is not something finalized. So this week Cabinet will be meeting to discuss the details of what types of cuts are expected at each ministry level and so that is where that exercise will take place."

Channel 7