Commissioner of Police Chester Williams hosts a public meeting in San Pedro Town

Friday, February 8th, 2019

 

Newly appointed Commissioner of Police Chester Williams held a public meeting in San Pedro Town on Thursday, February 7th to discuss the Belize Police Department’s plans regarding crime, domestic violence, policing and strengthening the relationship with the community. Williams was flanked by high ranking officers of the police department, including Deputy Commissioner of Police Edward Broaster and Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Coastal Executive Unit (San Pedro and Caye Caulker) Superintendent Reymundo Reyes. Held at the Central Park, the meeting drew several islanders who not only got to hear Williams’ agenda but were also able to voice their concerns.

 

Shortly after 7PM, Williams welcomed everyone to the meeting and expressed his joy to be back in San Pedro, where he started his police career, after graduating from the Belize Police Academy. Williams spoke about the importance of having a good working relationship with the public. He touched on the rogue behavior of some police officers, which affect that intended relationship. “We cannot be out there courting the public to work with us, and on the other hand, we are abusing them,” said Williams. He stated that under his command, those behaviors from officers would not be tolerated as his department is an institution committed to ensuring everyone’s safety.

When speaking of increasing crime, Williams pledged to be aggressive when facing gang members threatening the safety of the island community. “We will ensure that we do not give them the opportunity to continue committing a crime,” he boldly declared. Williams also committed to addressing the problem of domestic violence, in working to provide victims with counseling services to better guide them. Another topic was the issue of nightclubs getting after-hour extensions. “An extension is a privilege and not a must, 2PM is a good time to end a party, and we will discuss this topic with the liquor licensing board,” said Williams. He believes that murders and other crime incidents stem from late night activities and excessive alcohol consumption in clubs.

Williams then opened the floor to the audience, which led to an interactive discussion. Many of the attendees representing non-government organizations and the business community agreed to work together with the police to make the island a safer community, while others addressed the issue of enforcement. One particular topic was unauthorized tour operators and peddlers on the street disturbing tourists with illegal products. Williams said that he would work on getting more tourism police on the island to assist with enforcement. He hopes to increase the police personnel on the island whenever there is another recruitment.

Attendees complained that when visiting the police station on the island, they get an unprofessional attitude from officers, who at times even refused to take statements. Williams announced the installation of a surveillance system at the San Pedro Police Station equipped with audio to monitor the behavior of police officers. He also indicated that no police should deny anyone from making a statement. If such a thing happens, they should speak to the commanding officer, OIC Reyes. Reyes confirmed this, informing the audience that he can be approached any time a police officer behaves in such a manner and even shared this cell number.

Residents are now hopeful for a better relationship with the police department, and they look forward to a year with less crime on the island. Williams commended islanders for their good track record for working closely with the police, and he believes that such a partnership will grow stronger after such a successful meeting. Before wrapping up the meeting, Williams emphasized once again that his department will work getting a lot done for San Pedro to ensure the safety of both islanders and visitors alike, and more importantly, the tourism industry that helps so many Belizeans thrive.

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