Three police officers from San Pedro Detachment under investigation...
New Superintendent named

On July 22nd, the Belize Police Force in their effort to maintain the highest standard of discipline and the institutional integrity of the Force as well as that of its members, ongoing internal investigations have led to the interdiction from active duty, enforced vacation leave and voluntary resignation of 22 police officers.

These comprised of one Assistant of Superintendent, two Inspectors, two Assistant Inspectors, one Sergeant, seven Corporals and nine Police Constables. The Force High Command has found it necessary to relieve these officers from duty in order to allow the investigation to proceed without hindrance.

Three of the 22 officers presently under investigation were stationed in San Pedro. Assistant Inspector of Police Dean Lozano.

Placed on compulsory leave of 31 days effective forthwith pending outcome of investigation for either disciplinary/criminal charges.

Sergeant 519 Miguel Dominguez - Interdicted from duty effective on 22 July, 1997, followed by a thorough investigation for either disciplinary/criminal charges.

PC 467 Floyd Gomez - Interdicted from duty effective 23 July, 1997, followed by thorough investigation for either disciplinary/criminal charges.

New head of San Pedro Police- Assistant Superintendent Gutierrez

Assistant Superintendent of Police
Michael Gutierrez

On July 21st Assistant Inspector Dean Lozano who was head of San Pedro Police for a little under a year was removed from office and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Michael Gutierrez took his place as head of the San Pedro Police.

ASP Gutierrez was the police liaison officer in the Ministry of National Security. "I was an advisor to the Minister and Ministry on police matters." According to ASP Gutierrez, he was summoned by the Deputy Commissioner of Police who told him that his managerial skills and his background as a former intelligence officer were required in San Pedro. "I told him it would be a privilege and honour to be given that responsibility. One thing that was mentioned was that they wanted to elevate the officer in command in San Pedro and that administration was not happy with the management of the station."

A request for more man power has been made by ASP Gutierrez. "I have seen the need for more police officers and I have several operations that I would like to implement but for that to happen I need more officers." He added that the police provide an important service to the community, public safety, and because of the poor quality of service San Pedro has received in the past they have lost confidence in the police. ASP Gutierrez said that he plans to mend those bridges. He will be holding an open town meeting and meet high ranking delegates in the community to gain a perspective of what the community feels should be improved or changed.

He plans to develop a Police Youth Corp. which is similar to Boy Scouts. Young people in the community through this program will learn to defend themselves, participate in community services, learn about the law and benefit from several other programs. Random searches on known drug users and pushers will be carried out on regular basis, regular patrols have started since Thursday, July 24 and as soon as the engines for the police boat have been repaired maritime patrols in the north will start. ASP Gutierrez understands that there are limitations but feels that something must be done to improve safety throughout the entire island. He has also requested a vehicle which will be used to conduct patrols throughout the island.

On Monday, July 21st ASP Gutierrez held a meeting with his officers and discussed matters of discipline, corruption, response to citizen's complaints, minimizing response time and establishing a quick response team responsible for responding to extremely serious crimes. Concerning officers involved in criminal activities, ASP Gutierrez said that any officer found breaching the peace and involved in any criminal activity would be prosecuted. "Officers drinking while on duty? It will never happen while I'm here, over my dead body. All I need is to suspect that an officer is receiving bribes or is corrupt and he will be transferred or punished adequately. I demand a high degree of efficiency and effectiveness from my men. I have told them that I will have no passengers on board my ship, only crew men. Each officer will be assessed on a daily basis and will be informed if he is lacking in any way." According to the Assistant Superintendent, no police working under his command will use any force against any person that is unjustified. Any force used will be in accordance with and in conformation with the law. Officers who use unjustified force will do so at their own risk and will be held responsible for their own actions.

ASP Gutierrez plans to enhance the image of the Police Force here in San Pedro and to implement administrative and operational mechanism as propagated by the revised command and the rest of the Belize Police Force. He also commended the efforts of the Special Constables and is looking forward to working along with them. "I would like to make an appeal to the citizens of San Pedro to help us by giving what information they have about crimes committed or premeditated. Members of the community have my assurance that they will be kept anonymous and their information will be dealt with a high degree of confidentiality and merit that it deserves."

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