Switching over to crime, recent statistic show that since the beginning of the year 79 people have been murdered. Of recently, there is also an increase in robberies, including last week’s brazen daylight robberies on Albert Street in Belize City. And, while the Government of Belize have been making efforts to fight crime, PUP party Leader Johhny Briceno is of the view that the Government has lost confidence in Belizeans when it comes to preventing, detecting and solving crime.
Johhny Briceno, Leader of the Opposition: We have heard a lot of talk from the recently reappointed Minister of Police about operation ACT, and they have added more acronyms to the list of police units like the GSU, ADU, SPU and the list goes on. So far none of this has made so much as a dent into the crime and violence; enough with the acronyms. During the Budget Debate, Police Minister John Saldivar said that he will be holding consultations with civil society, the social partners and other stakeholders to look at a comprehensive plan to address the crime situation. He stated that he would call on the Opposition as well. To date, he has not invited any of us in the Opposition to a single meeting; neither has he reached out to anyone in our party to ask us to be part of his efforts. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Minister of National Security and the leadership of the Belize Police Department, has lost the confidence of our people when it comes to preventing, detecting and solving crime.
As you may recall, several weeks ago BDF personnel were deployed into the streets of Belize City after one of the nation’s most murderous weekends. Briceno stated in his press conference this afternoon that added force is not the solution to crime.
Johhny Briceno, Leader of the Opposition: We remain convinced however, that this problem will not be solved with guns and more B.D.F. on the streets. We cannot brutalize our youths into submission – this will not work. As I said in my last press briefing, we need to revitalize the South Side of Belize City to make it a zone of opportunity. Our communities will be safer if we police better, keep our children in school, improve relations between the police and the community and improve our conviction rates. And we all have to be better parents; we need to treat our children with love, care and understanding, and yes, discipline. We need a plan that will see a police department equipped to serve our citizens and communities. A knowledgeable person in policing tactics recently told me that the police department needs to be retrained, retooled, and refocused. I agree.