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Editorial – Friday, August 2nd. 2019

Editorial – Friday, August 2nd. 2019
August 02
14:21 2019

It was announced this week that the Belize Police Department is ready to train more than a hundred recruits to enter the Police Force. These were chosen from more than a thousand applicants.

These new recruits will be given three months of classroom work and six months of street work under capable instructors to prepare them for their new profession.

This is more practical and less theory than before. We commend Police Commissioner Chester Williams for being willing to try new ideas, but in our view the Jamaica experience in fighting street crime is not a good fit for Belize, which has a much smaller population and appears to be temperamentally different from the crime population of our sister country.

Our recent experience in seeing a seasoned police officer shoot a man and kill him during a police car chase is a reminder that police officers need more training on the limits which the law imposes on them.

They need refresher courses as well, even if they are experienced officers. A better grounding in the law or a refresher course might have prevented the deep distress caused to the victim’s family, the police officer and his family.

New people joining the police force should get more training on white collar crime and acts of corruption, civil rights and the rule of law. The time to sniff out a bad cop is during assessment training, before he becomes fully recognized as a cop. It is difficult to get rid of a bad cop once he is fully established on the force.

Classroom practice helps to discover and weed out men and women with character defects – a tendency towards bullying and violence. This requires a psychological assessment, and this is done by instructors in the classroom.

Our police department as presently constituted has largely neglected foot patrols in favour of mobile patrols and check-points. But the foot patrols help patrolling officers to know their neighborhood, the streets and alley-ways more thoroughly, and they enable people to meet and interact with the police more easily.

If the new intake of more than a hundred new police recruits will mean more boots on the ground, that would be a step in the right direction. It should not translate into more rides, more police cars and more fuel being consumed.

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