"Crime is everyone's problem," was the message, which echoed throughout
the Citizens' Safety Committee meeting held last Thursday at the
Medical University of the Americas Belize campus. It was a fairly well
attended meeting and many key issues were covered. However, in the end,
it was the general consensus that many fail to realize that crime in
San Pedro has escalated to a very critical level. It was further agreed
that now is the time to do something to combat crime in "La Isla
Bonita" before it gets completely out of control. All of those
attending concluded though, that crime is everyone's problem and the
community, as a whole, needs to come together to combat this problem.
Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr., Mayor Elsa Paz, and San Pedro
Police Inspector James Moreira were the principal public officials in
attendance. David Childs, Manager of The Villas at Banyan Bay,
conducted the meeting and first centered on the number of "brazen"
incidents that have taken place over the last two months. He stated
that the ability to stroll leisurely down the beach, at any time, is
what attracts tourists to our beautiful destination. Childs added that
if this major component is taken away and visitors no longer feel safe
walking around Ambergris Caye, our tourism industry will begin to
With that in mind, several key points were addressed and suggestions
made to minimize crime in San Pedro Town. The first issue was to
pinpoint the locations where visitors are most vulnerable - areas that
could pose a danger to tourists or locals walking the beach or the
streets at night. It was stated that areas where attackers may hide
(bushes and trees) could be eliminated, adequate safety lighting could
be installed, and security at these locations could be increased.
The second issue pointed out that a complete radio contact system
between hotel security guards and the police department is absolutely
necessary. It was noted that security guards from North Ambergris Caye
usually have a difficult time contacting a police officer when they
need to. A comment was made that resort staff should have access to a
land phone line and should coordinate with the police department to
determine a specific radio frequency for everyone to use to contact the
police. It was suggested a "repeater" (type of antennae) be installed
for clearer communications.
Inspector Moreira confirmed that currently, only three police officers
are available for each shift during the day, so it was decided that a
meeting with a Ministry of Home Affairs representative be arranged to
request that more police officers be transferred to the island. He
added that certain officers agreed to attend neighborhood watch
meetings and update members on any incidents of break-ins, assaults,
attacks, or of any possible troublemakers. The Inspector announced that
known troublemakers and drug dealers are now being photographed and
recorded in a "mug shot" portfolio for future reference. It was
suggested that meetings between the San Pedro Police Department, the
Immigration Department and the Department of Human Services be arranged
to coordinate a "sweep," possibly every month, to remove illegal aliens
from the island.
The next point tackled was the drastic increase in the number of new
people coming to the island, without money, jobs, or support (homeless
and jobless), who end up sleeping all over the island. This was an
issue that created some serious discussion since, it is believed that
these individuals may be responsible for dealing drugs, snatching
purses, and other incidents that have been taking place. Inspector
Moreira stated that he would check into the laws regarding homeless
persons to find a possible solution to the problem.
The meeting concluded with an agreement to schedule another get-
together in the following weeks. An appeal goes out to local residents
to please attend the next meeting with their suggestions on how to
fight crime on the island. Crime is everyone's problem and local input
is very important.
The San Pedro Sun will publish the particulars of the follow-up
Citizens' Safety Committee meeting as information becomes available.