Commissioner Gerald Westby visits

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 2            January11, 2007

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Gerald Westby outlined an ambitious vision for the department as they strive to strenghten the attitudes and morale of the officers.

The Police Officers listen in as Mr. Westby outlines his plan for improving crime fighting in San Pedro.

The commissioner of police, Gerald Westby paid a very important visit to the island on Friday to talk about arising concerns with Mayor Elsa Paz, as well as discussing ways to improve the efficiency of the departments.

    Along with press officer, G Michael Reid, the commissioner met with the Mayor and carefully examined the recent concerns brought to the Council by members of this community and tourists alike. Some of the topics discussed included the recent wave of harassment of tourists by “non-desirables”, the increase of burglaries, the role of the tourist police, and the overall protection of the residents and tourists of Ambergris Caye.

    After much discussion, the commissioner made a visit to the San Pedro Police Department to “check-up” on his young army of men and women. Westby outlined an ambitious vision for all the departments as they strive to strengthen the attitudes and morale of the officers. In doing so, he is making countrywide visits to address these issues and improve the effectiveness of the departments. “We have a fairly young department and we want to work at changing the attitude or improving the attitude of police internally to have more self respect for themselves, respect for each other, respect for the law abiding citizens out there so that when we go to the public the public will be more receptive to supporting us because we need the community to work with. We have an obligation to you all and we want to work hand in hand with the communities,” commented Westby. Job training, job development and the importance of the tourist industry are some key areas he spoke about especially in a bustling town like San Pedro. “It’s all a matter of how to treat someone; with civility, courtesy. I always encourage my team to do the best they can and take pride in what they do.” The commissioner also commented on the crime situation that has been plaguing communities and stands committed to provide operational strategies to address community concerns. His discussion with the officers was not only for that reason but to implement ways and programs that can boost morale and over all motivate them to do their jobs well. A candid Westby added, “It is important to strike a balance. We punish individuals for wrongful acts, as well as reward them for great deeds. The key word here is teamwork and we want our officers to be exemplary individuals in the public eye. High morale is important and we want to award our outstanding officers on a monthly basis. We already got support from the Town Council to endorse this program and of course with the consultation of the community.”

    G Michael Reid is the coordinator of the Commissioner’s bi-annual visits across the country. In response to these concerns a meeting has been scheduled for February 6th so that the Commissioner may hear these concerns first-hand from the community. It was agreed that a local liaison committee be formed (including a member of the Council) to bring these concerns directly to the Commissioner. Mr. Westby is optimistic in assuring the town leaders that the police department will study these cases and adjustments will be made to help alleviate the problems presently being faced on the island.
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