San Pedro Citizens on Patrol undergo successful training
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
Several islanders were part of a Citizens on Patrol (COP) training aimed at improving the partnership between law enforcers and the community. The program complements the efforts of the police department as well and was held from Tuesday, January 29th to Thursday, January 31st inside the VIP Lounge of Fidos Beach Bar. Spearheaded by the National Auxiliary Police Coordinator, Rudolph Orio, participants were educated on how to respond to certain situations, and at the end of the training, each one was awarded with a certificate completion.
Orio explained that police could not properly function without the assistance of the community. He emphasized that a stronger bond is imperative to make the island a safer place for both residents and visitors. The program’s objectives are to encourage and mobilize community-minded individuals to volunteer, as more eyes and ears in the community can assist in the deterrence of crime. However, Orio explained that a COP does not intervene during a crime in progress or dangerous situations. Instead, they report criminal activity to the police, as their duty is to observe and report.
Some of the common observations COP’s are expected to report include suspicious activities, stolen vehicles, vandalism, impaired drivers and even unsecured properties. They are also expected to assist in foot patrols in designated areas, traffic control, checking buildings upon request and conduct routine checks of businesses in their neighborhood before, during and after opening hours.
The training sessions also taught participants on Constitutional Rights, the use of justifiable force, crime prevention and how to describe reports via radio or telephone. According to one of the participants, Julian Lopez, the lectures were quite useful and easy to understand. He looks forward to working closely with the police and making his neighborhood and island community a safer environment.
The Belize Police Department believes that the COP program creates stronger communities that are more aware and dedicated to their neighborhoods. The relationship between citizens and police gets stronger, healthier and more efficient when coming together in avoiding/solving crimes. In San Pedro Town, anyone interested in joining is encouraged to visit the island’s police station to obtain additional information and sign up.The successful participants of the COP training will be eligible to apply to become special constables after six months. Another set of training sessions is expected to take place in the coming months in an attempt to encourage more island residents to join this initiative and increase cooperation with the island police.
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