No Tourism Police in San Pedro

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 38            September 27, 2001

Features: Search Issues | Read Back Issues | Subscriptions | Merchandise Ordering Information

Despite statistics that say crime is decreasing in Belize, it continues to be a problem in San Pedro. On a positive note, more policemen are patrolling the streets of the island. The challenge remains though, of assigning tourism police to this destination to protect our main source of income, tourism. For several years, at countless meetings, this issue has arisen and the bottom line for the lack of tourism officers has always been money for housing. Finally, in January of this year, Officer Wayne Cadle was appointed as the island's tourism police officer. Already established as a resident of San Pedro, housing was not a factor.

   At a San Pedro Citizens Advisory Committee meeting in early June, Assistant Inspector of Police Linden Flowers also reported housing costs appeared to be the "hang up" with two additional Ambergris Caye tourism police officers promised by the Belize Tourism Board. Three months later, we are still faced with no additional officers and on September 1st, 2001, our only tourism police officer resigned.

    Last week, a concerned citizen approached our office with the report of a sexual assault which occurred on a busy section of the beach at approximately ten o'clock in the evening. This particular incident appeared exceptionally alarming because of the time, location and age of the attacker. This is but one of many incidents of this and other crimes taking place in the heart of this country's tourism industry. A phone call was made to Mr. Kent Sylvestre, Tourism Police Supervisor, addressing this and other related issues. He stated, "We are ready, willing and able to be there," but explained the money budgeted for housing exceeds the costs of rent in San Pedro. He informed they would like to rent a three-bedroom unit to house the two tourism police and an office, but the housing budget is only $500. He emphasized that due to the high cost of rental property on Ambergris Caye, any amount over budget would need to be subsidized. When asked if private citizens, the San Pedro Town Council or the Area Representative could assist with alleviating the costs of housing, Mr. Sylvestre replied that any help would be welcomed. Anyone wishing to offer their assistance, who is aware of or can offer more affordable housing may contact Mr. Sylvestre at 02-79970.

    Following up on the process of financing, a call was made to the Ministry of Finance which led to an interview with CEO Alan Usher of the Ministry of National Security. Mr. Usher expressed no knowledge of the fact that there were NO tourism police on the island, but said many positive changes are underway in this department. Questioned why San Pedro received such an insignificant amount of support when they provided a large contribution to the finances of the country, he explained the allocation of funds for tourism police in the next budget would amount to just under $650,000. Mr. Usher stated this increase should provide for added security in all destinations. Furthermore, the ministry has made a decision to incorporate tourism police training into the same training of the main police force to establish a more well-rounded officer, capable of handling difficult situations. Essentially, tourism police would be required to undertake courses and complete a 22-month program similar to the Belize Police Force. The only difference would be an emphasis on the tourism industry and their related challenges. Mr. Usher further informed that Minister of National Security Jorge Espat recently spoke with Mayor Alberto Nuñez of San Pedro and that a meeting is scheduled to discuss the concerns of this island. Ending the conversation, he assured that he would personally make the Commissioner of Police aware of the fact there were currently no tourism police stationed on Ambergris Caye.

    Anyone wishing to express their concerns regarding our community's crime or security issues should contact local government representatives prior to this meeting with the minister. Feel free to call the San Pedro Town Council at 2198 or Area Representative Patty Arceo at 2903.
Search go!
| | Island Info | Community | History | Visitor Center |
Belize News | | Messages |

Copyright © San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News