Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa and his C.E.O., Kevin Arthurs along with Commissioner of Police Chester Williams and other members of ministry are on a countrywide tour, meeting with officers attached to formations in various municipalities. On Tuesday, they were in Corozal and Orange Walk and today, they headed to the coastal communities of Caye Caulker and San Pedro. News Five’s Duane Moody caught up with the delegation and files this report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The welfare of police officers has been the main topic of discussion as the Minister of Home Affairs makes the rounds on his country tour. Police barracks, health insurance and the overall morale of some two thousand two hundred police officers is at the heart of the visit.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs
“The primary purpose of a tour like this is to familiarise myself with all of the officers, with all of the police stations; to take stock of where we are, what are our challenges and where our focus needs to be in terms of a strategy to fight crime. In addition to that, there’s also a lot of infrastructural work. I have already been identified by the chairlady that in fact there are serious issues with the buildings out here and with the living quarters. It’s been a very sad year so far as the minister of home affairs because I’ve attended seven funerals for police officers and what that speaks to is that we have health issues; our officers are having health issues and it is something that is very near and dear to me because I firmly believe that they ought to have medical insurance. That is something very basic there. Our frontline officers out there facing so challenges so it is critical that they get that.”
Only four hundred police officers are currently insured, but they are paying for that out of their pockets. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams and other senior officers within the department are accompanying the minister and C.E.O. on this tour. The top cop was once a rank and file officer, who was equally subject to being transferred across the country to carry out his duties. Now from the highest office in the police department, he understands the concerns of the officers and wants to make that change.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
“It is always important to make sure that the officers’ morale is at an all time high and that can only be achieved by looking after a person’s welfare. And so as the Commissioner of Police, I am very grateful to have a minister who is hands on and he himself also want to see that the officers do get the necessary equipment that they need in order to perform at the optimal level. We understand that we are policing in difficult times and that even lends to the fact that we need to do more to ensure that our officers feel comfortable whilst at work. But not only feeling comfortable, but also that they are safe while they perform the very difficult task that they have to perform as police officers.”
The first stop of the day was Caye Caulker where the record shows that for over a year, there has not been any major crime on the island. Chairlady Seleny Villanueva-Pott says that this is due to the collaborative work between the council and the police department as well as residents.
Seleny Villanueva-Pott, Chairlady, Caye Caulker Village Council
“It’s commendable because they want to know what’s happening on the ground – what they are happy with, what they are not happy with. They want to be the advocate for change and I believe that coming out and seeing for yourself and knowing what’s going on on the ground; that’s the best way to make the change.”