Our Community - Orlando Cruz - "Taking a bite out of crime in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 43            November 1, 2001

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Detective Orlando Cruz

Ambergris Caye has seen a notable increase over the years in the arrival of tourists as well as people wishing to relocate here. With this influx come good and bad elements of society. Still considered one of the safer destinations in the world, crime still needs to be controlled on this lovely island. To prevent crime from escalating and ensuring the safety of the residents and tourists, the community relies on the police. This week we are pleased to introduce a member of the San Pedro Police Department who is instrumental in solving crimes - Detective Orlando Cruz.

    On June 29th, 1977 Linda Parham and Pedro Cruz celebrated the birth of their son Orlando Cruz in the picturesque town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. Orlando grew up a responsible young man excelling in his studies at Sacred Heart Primary School and High School. As a young boy he served a number of years as an altar boy for his church. After graduating from high school in 1995, Orlando applied and was accepted at St. John's College/Junior College in Belize City, but due to financial restraints was unable to attend. However, a priest Orlando previously worked with offered him a scholarship at a college in the Stann Creek District. Determined to continue his education Orlando took advantage of the offer and moved to Dangriga where he attended Stann Creek Ecumenical College. He graduated in 1997, majoring in economics.

    Upon his return to San Ignacio, Orlando was hired as a part-time attendant to the medical personnel of the San Ignacio Hospital. Seven months later he made a decision to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a police officer and joined the police academy. "When I was young I was fascinated by cop movies. I particularly enjoyed detective stories and wanted to grow up to be a crime solver myself," Detective Cruz told the San Pedro Sun.

    On February 22nd, 1998 he enrolled in a six-month course at the Police Training Academy in Belmopan undergoing strenuous physical and mental exercises. Upon graduating, he joined the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) posted as a detective in San Ignacio. As a plain clothes detective, Cruz's duties entail dealing with the investigation of major crimes including murder, rape, forgery and dangerous harm and the apprehension of felons committing these crimes. Detective Cruz worked for one year and nine months in San Ignacio before his transfer to San Pedro in July of 2000.

    To further his investigative knowledge Detective Cruz attended a two-week CIB course at the Police Training Academy and another Special Forces training course at Camp Belizario in San Ignacio. Since his transfer to San Pedro, Detective Cruz has given his best to ensure that crime remains at a minimum. Although his normal work schedule is from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, five days-a-week, he is on-call 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. "I thoroughly enjoy my work, but sometimes it is difficult for us (policeman) to do our work properly because politics get in the way. Although I want to remain in this profession for some time, I have not given up hope of getting a pilot's license, another of my childhood dreams," stated Detective Cruz.

    When Detective Cruz takes a breather from this demanding job he enjoys reading, especially the works of author John Grisham. He exercises regularly and is also a talented painter. He has sketched a number of impressive pieces, a talent he says he inherited from his father who is an artist.

    As "La Isla Bonita" continues to grow as the number one vacation destination of many, the residents of San Pedro are pleased they can rely on the proper investigative skills and police duties that Detective Orlando Cruz has sworn to uphold in "Our Community."

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