Here’s another “Other Side of Paradise” story that they won’t tell you in those shiny “Come live in paradise” brochures and TV commercials:
Police in Belize are generally (a) brutal, (b) corrupt, (c) outrageously incompetent, or (d) some or all of the above.
Mind you, I have met and know a lot of extremely nice, courteous cops who may not be brutal or corrupt. But the police are just under-staffed and woefully under-trained and under-discipined
When I was researching Belize online and thinking about moving here, I asked an expat who blogs, online, about the awful law enforcement. I knew it was awful from reading Belizean newspapers online, which are riddled with crime reportage and frequent reporting about law enforcement
The expat’s reply was, “You’ve seen the Keystone Cops movies, haven’t you? Don’t expect the police to come to your rescue.”
Here’s an excerpt from the news in Belize City today from http://www.patrickjonesbelize.com, which covers police and crime news like a blanket:
“Aaron Hughes reporting: Belize City police face a truly outrageous allegation of brutality amid concerns of use of excessive force in several incidents in the past few days.
“West Canal resident Armani Bailey, the nephew of well-known Justice of the Peace Grace Flowers, reported that he was taken from his home by multiple officers in a black Toyota 4Runner and driven up the George Price Highway to Mile 4, at Belizean Beach, where officers allegedly threw him into a garbage container with trash and water and tried to drown him in it, then left him for dead.
“One of the officers even threatened to kill him with a bullet to the head.
“They also pushed around Ms. Flowers and another relative, an 84 year old who they pushed to the ground.
“Once again, the Professional Standards Branch has been called in to investigate.”
Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster reiterated that if the investigation finds the allegation to be true, the officers in question would be disciplined.
This is one of four complaints made to authorities about the behavior of the Police in the last few days.
Officers in Precinct 1 and 2 are the primary alleged offenders.
The Police normally ramp up operations around major holidays and are known for taking in young men and practicing a little bullying to keep them in line.
But Broaster says there was no such operation this time and the Police are moving away from that kind of activity as part of their community friendly approach to crime solving.
According to Broaster, the “Not In My City” campaign addresses the issue of community spirit and cooperation with law enforcement.
Asked if that may be damaged by the allegations of brutality, he said they are doing their best to warn officers away from excess.
Officers are told before going on operations to avoid unnecessary engagement with citizens.