Our Community - Melbourne Alvarez - "San Pedro's Personable Peacekeeper"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 9, No. 47            December 9, 1999

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Sgt. Melbourne Alvarez of the San Pedro Police Department

Recently police departments throughout the country of Belize celebrated Police Week. This week was set aside to work closely with the community to educate and sensitize them to the everyday work of a police officer. In San Pedro, the police department was very visible during the week taking part in various activities. Police officers play a vital role in every community to secure the peace and tranquility of its residents. It is with this in mind that we salute an officer of the San Pedro Police Department who has been an outstanding role model in the police force and works closely with the community, Sergeant Mel- bourne Alvarez.

    Melbourne Alvarez was born in the southern part of Belize in Dangriga Town on May 28th, 1968. Soon after, his family moved to Orange Walk where Melbourne attended St. Peter's Elementary School. Before he completed his primary education, his family once again moved to Dangriga where he graduated from Holy Ghost School. Young Mel- bourne was an ambitious youth and strived for his secondary education at Ecumenical High School in Dangriga, graduating in 1984. Following graduation Melbourne returned to Orange Walk and discovered a sad truth about life. Jobs were scarce and he had to jump into the first opening that was available. Not being a stranger to hard work, Melbourne became a laborer, working on various construction projects and also working in the sugar fields that are abundant in that district. Deep inside he knew that the break he was looking for would come. What he was very sure of was that, whatever his career choice was going to be, it would be one that he could work closely with and assist the public. This opportunity soon arrived. In June of 1985 he joined the Police Training School in Belmopan and underwent six intensive months of learning basic police duties, first aid and criminal law.

    Immediately after graduation Officer Alvarez was posted to the Patrol Branch in Belize City where he worked for one year. In 1987 he received his first transfer to the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) and in 1991 to the Serious Crimes Squad. In 1992 Officer Alvarez's dedication to the force paid off as he received his first promotion to Corporal. It was during his time in this position that he educated himself through refresher courses and a series of workshops and seminars which included Maritime Law Enforcement, Drug Enforcement, Drug Interdiction, Introduction to Computers and a Joint Intelligence Coordinating Center (JICC) Field Operation Seminar. All this time Corporal Alvarez was stationed in Belize City. After three years he received his first transfer out, taking him to Corozal Town as the Corporal in charge of a relief. He stayed in this position for one year and attended another seminar; Detection of Stolen Vehicle Training. At the end of that year, 1996, he was promoted to Sergeant and was notified of his transfer on January 15th, 1997, to San Pedro Town.

    Sergeant Alvarez has always been game for a challenge and he knew that this would be a good one. He came to San Pedro as a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of the entire police station. He had the responsibility of running the station on a day-to-day basis. This was different than other positions he had previously held. Sergeant Alvarez told the San Pedro Sun, "I had to be strong. I was immediately introduced to a lifestyle I was not accustomed to but as a police officer you learn to adapt quickly to a new environment. All this was made much easier by the friendly people of the island. I had the full support of the community."

    While in San Pedro, Sergeant Alvarez attended two additional workshops. In 1998 he attended the Prosecution of Drug Offences Advanced Training Workshop in Belize City and the Sergeant's General Duties Course in December of 1998, held in Barbados. Sergeant Alvarez noted there have been a significant amount of changes since 1997. He stated that the amount of officers on the island has grown from 12 to 16, and there is more discipline and better police public relations, which they hope to continue by forming more Neighborhood Watch groups. When asked if he foresees himself on the island for a longer amount of time, he commented that this decision is left up to higher authorities in Belmopan. In the past he has never asked to be transferred. What he looks forward to is his next promotion which would make him a deserving Assistant Inspector of Police. The promotion is a decision of the Promotional Board of Directors and the results of the yearly exams.

    "As the Non Commissioned Officer in Charge, I'm working hard, along with my police officers to provide quality service to San Pedro. We strive to improve ourselves on a daily basis. Just recently we attended a Hospitality Workshop. I would like to urge the community not to be afraid to call and assist the police with information whenever necessary. The police alone cannot fight crime. We need the support of the community, which I am proud to say, has been excellent in San Pedro," ended Sergeant Alvarez.

    The task of a police officer without a doubt, is a very difficult one. They are easily criticized and not often praised for their efforts. Sergeant Alvarez has truly served as an example of a community-minded officer who has gained respect and the deserved title of Sergeant of San Pedro Town. Our Community takes pride in saluting Sergeant Melbourne Alvarez.

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