Crime Committee meets

On July 3rd, 1997, the San Pedro Crime Committee held an invitation only meeting at the San Pedro Town Hall at about 8:00 p.m. Twelve invitations were sent out to people in the community presumed to be interested, but only a few attended. Present at the meeting were Chairman Jack Westerhold, Lydia Chuc of the San Pedro Sun, Mayor Alberto Nuñez, Assistant Inspector Dean Lozano and John Chivers of Captain Morgan's.

Westerhold opened the meeting on behalf the Crime Committee by welcoming the six new police officers to San Pedro. Westerhold also thanked the Mayor and the Town Board for the quick response in upgrading the old police quarters situated in the Police Station compound. The renovated building will now be home for three of the new police officers. He also told Inspector Lozano that he was looking forward, as well as all of San Pedro, to improvements in the department and how well the new officers will work. Westerhold said that he and the special constables and the Crime Committee would continue to lend its services to the department in crime prevention, other crime projects or any way possible.

Westerhold said that he had high hopes for the six new officers. Lozano said, "They are freshly passed out and they will be easier to control, not like the old hard backs. It will be harder on the supervisors, it will be tough for the corporal and the sergeants who will be training them."

Inspector Lozano said that they had to work on how to get people to come out and be a part of the meetings. Westerhold asked if there would be any progress with a big crowd. Lozano wanted to know where all the interested people were. "They showed interest once, what has happened? Are they interested?" Jack Westerhold replied, "No." Lozano went on to say that San Pedro should have a good turn out at these meetings. "We have to find out about their interests. I've been to four or five meetings so far and only a few people show up. We've got to get to them and find out what's on their mind." Lozano said that it was good to have a representative and interested persons (Mr. Chivers) in the north, but that the problem was with participation of people in town.

Westerhold said that he invited twelve people to the meeting he believed would be interested enough to participate in the Crime Committee. "I went to each and explained and they said they said yes, but they didn't show...I don't want people who won't show up to meetings. We don't have enough people to keep on this way. How can we get them there to participate? Offer free food and drinks? I don't think that will ever happen. I'm really not sure what the answer is to get them involved. They won't care or show interest until something happens to them. I think we do good work, with a few people things get done."

Lozano said, "I think the community should be involved but there's no one here, no mothers, no fathers. Business people should be present to discuss the security of their businesses and to prevent thefts and to establish a neighbourhood watch. Children on the streets late at night should be discussed. Teachers should be present and parents, where is their interest? Isn't it in the safety of their children? We shouldn't just have these meetings to ask for equipment but we should get other things such as suggestions from the community. In Caye Caulker they make it work. They have a good attendance and they are smaller than we are. We have to try and show people that we are interested. We should go to them." Westerhold said, "We must be organized first before we can go to the community. We need citizens to form bodies that will motivate others to get involved."

Chivers asked if there was still a need for typewriters at police station. Lozano replied that they need two desks and four chairs especially now that they are planning an extension to the station. Chivers said he could donate file cabinets. Lozano said that one file cabinet and a table would be appreciated.

Lozano also mentioned the need for paint to paint the station and part of the police housing barracks facing Barrier Reef Drive. Mayor Nuñez suggested that the children participating in the summer work programme be given the job of painting the building.

Lozano mentioned that at the end of next week the pick up truck that was donated to them would arrive. It was in Belize City for repairs.

Chivers questioned Lozano about the development into the investigation of the case concerning two tourists that were robbed in the north, close to the Palapa Bar. Lozano said that several suspects were presented to the couple but they did not identify any of them as the offenders.

Chivers mentioned that people were still walking through the properties up north. Lozano mentioned that Dr. Wil Lala used video cameras to record everyone who passes through his property. Chivers replied that they had no money to set up cameras and that they felt that it was an invasion of privacy. He mentioned that they were setting up motion lights on the property. Chivers said that he was willing to work along with the police and that if there ever comes a time when something is happening up north, all they had to do was to give them a call and they would help. Lozano said that was a good idea and that if someone was heading north Chivers could cut them off and the police could hold them off on the south.

Inspector Lozano asked about the bridge leading to the north and when, if any, would construction start. Mayor Nuñez replied that several people in the north were complaining and were not in favor of a bridge because of the traffic increase in the area that it would cause. Westerhold said that the value of land would increase in the north and that San Pedro needed more visitors. "We need more business. We're starving here." Mayor Nuñez said that it would be good for business up north. Chivers added that it would be less expensive to travel up north.

Westerhold also asked about hurricane awareness and precautions. Lozano said that there was a Hurricane Committee and that he had attended two meetings already and that about 22 buildings were pinpointed to be suitable for shelters. The building owners were contacted and asked if they would be willing to donate their buildings as shelters but only about two have responded. Mayor Nuñez said that in an emergency they would just "take over."

Chivers asked the inspector if they needed bicycles, because he could donate a few. Inspector Lozano said that they needed two. Chivers said that the bicycles were not new and they might need work. Lozano said that for police use they had to be in good condition. Chivers suggested an article in the newspaper requesting help from people who could spare a bicycle or two to donate to the police.

Inspector Lozano was asked for an update on the TASK force that was formed to prevent boat thefts and to recover lost boats and engines. Lozano said, "Belmopan is working along with Guatemala but it is going slow. It is not easy to deal with certain countries. When we deal with Mexico things move quickly." He also mentioned that the article the newspaper printed about the TASK force has done a great deal. "Ever since the last TASK force update was printed in the paper we haven't had any more boat thefts. It has help to inform people about the job we are doing."

The meeting concluded with the agreement, of those in attendance, that a group should be formed to visit members of the community and businesses and to speak with them to find out why they are no longer interested and what can be done to gain their participation and support of the Crime Committee.

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