Donated Police truck out of commission for the past 2 months

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The Police Department in San Pedro is short one truck, as their Hilux pickup truck has been parked at the mechanic shop for the past two months awaiting repairs. This of course is a genuine concern to island residents, especially considering the current crime situation. As the excuse for a delay in police response is usually “lack of transportation”, the community is frustrated, and The San Pedro Sun investigated as to the cause of this “lack of transport”.

The SPSun visited the mechanic shop in the Escalante area where the vehicle has been awaiting repairs. The truck was seen parked with its front right wheel off and parts of the machine exposed. The bearings of the right wheel had worn out and the parts are not available in Belize. The brand new vehicle was donated to the SP Police by members of the business community less than a year ago. During this one year period, the mechanic claims that it has been in and out of the shop on several occasions. Those instances include once when the power steering was broken and twice after a crash (with both sides of the vehicle needing repairs). One of the mechanics told The SPSun that not only does the salt air in the environment contribute to the wear and tear of the vehicle but the reckless driving and the apparent disregard of the donation also plays a big role in the vehicle being down. The mechanic explained that since the vehicle was taken to them for repair, there has been little effort by the Belize Police Department to get it fixed. “The vehicle, valued at about $69,000, was a gift to them and for a repair that will cost at about $2,500 at the most, the Police left the pickup parked at our mechanic shop; that shows their lack of interest,” said one of the mechanics at the shop.

In trying to shine some light on the issue, The SPSun spoke to the acting Officer in Charge of the San Pedro Police Inspector Ernel Dominguez. Dominguez explained that when the vehicle was donated to them by the North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Committee, with help from the business community, monies were also allocated for the maintenance of the vehicle. According to Dominguez, it appears that the person or persons involved in ensuring that the vehicle was maintained, used the system to their advantage and those monies were exhausted. Dominguez explained that as soon as the mechanic hands over the vehicle in working condition to the Police Department, the Government of Belize will cover expenses for the repairs. He explained that because the police have a heavy workload, and considering the marine environment, the wearing down of the police vehicles is exacerbated. When asked to comment on the allegations made against the department referring to “recklessness and apparent disregard for the vehicle,” Dominguez said with the deplorable conditions in some areas and when responding to emergencies in such areas of town, it may appear that some officers may not be as careful as others do when driving the police vehicle.

Dominguez made it clear, however, that at no point in time has police response been affected by the absence of the truck. He explained that while the truck is down, they use other method to access the different areas. “The Hilux truck is needed to access the different areas because it moves quicker than a cart. However since it’s down, we use what is within our resources. We work with the different golf cart companies and depending on the availability of carts, we are allowed to utilize them to help access the different areas of the island,” said Dominguez.

As to when the vehicle will be fixed, Dominguez stated, “I can confirm that the parts are being ordered and it’s just a matter of a few more days and the truck will be up and running.” It is the hope of the Police Department that with the Anti-Crime Campaign’s heightened patrols, islanders should begin to feel safer.

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