Business people who have been the victims of burglaries of late, also expressed their frustration in the way the Police Department is addressing and investigating their cases. “The police know who are committing these crimes, we all know who are committing these crimes, however these people are still out,” said Julian Rivero, a sentiment that was echoed by many others at the meeting. According to the affected business owners and other concerned residents, it appears as is if the police are not giving the issues much attention and it has now become a growing problem that is beginning to “plague” the community. “We simply do not feel safe anymore!” expressed the victims.
The residents also expressed serious concerns about the issue of children being used as part of the crime ring, some of whom are believed to be selling drugs. Serious concerns were also raised about underage children being out late at night and even sold alcohol. The issue of stores opening late till the wee hours of the morning to facilitate the sale of alcohol to the public was also raised. Concerns also centered on the large number of vagabonds and unemployed people harassing tourists for money or offering them drugs, thus contributing to the spike in crime especially during the slow season.
As for kids being on the street late at night, ASP Robinson explained that already there is dialogue and the proper steps are being taken to propose a curfew for underage children on Ambergris Caye. As for the suggestion to have unemployed people be take off the island, ASP Robinson made it absolutely clear, that as per the constitution, no Belizean can be deprived to move freely within the territory of Belize of which she reminded Ambergris Caye is a part of.
In addressing the issue of “unsolved crime” ASP Robinson explained that the community seems “uncooperative,” with the police during investigations. “We cannot base our investigation on hearsay. We are asking the community who knows about these crimes to come forward and give a statement. We need something to act on and bring these criminals to justice. And if we have the necessary information to investigate your case and you are still not getting the help you need, then you can request to see me. I will ensure that we follow up with your case and that we get to the bottom of it,” assured ASP Robinson. She also promised to personally follow up on the allegations that items recovered as part of the investigation have gone missing from the Police Department. “I heard that such things were happening previous to my post here. I want to assure you that I will not tolerate this from anyone of my officers,” stated ASP Robinson who promised to look into the matter.
What makes it even worse for the SP Police Department is that two of its vehicles are no working making it difficult to conduct mobile patrol as efficient as the Department would want. During the meeting, the SPTC promised to donate a vehicle to the Police Department along with new hand radios that will help them respond to reports in a timelier manner. ASP Robinson strongly encouraged stakeholders to come together and to restart the neighborhood watch groups in the different areas. The meeting ended with a strong commitment from both the Police Department and the SPTCC to work together and to seek an audition with the Minister of Police Hon. John Saldivar to see what can be done to address the issues promptly.