The Belize Police Department dedicates most of its resources to the Belize District and the City in particular – partially because it is the single largest police district and it is where most crimes are committed. It is also where most media houses are based and in an effort to better manage the information flow between the police and the media, a new Community/Public Relations Unit has been formed. It is staffed by current Department press officer Raphael Martinez, coordinator Douglas Hyde and former community policing officer Corporal Hortence Hernandez.
Douglas Hyde describes what their job will be.
“The Unit itself is the Information Management wing of the Belize Police Department, specifically the Eastern Division, and it’s in charge of the internal and external communications. Our overall responsibility is to build and safeguard the image of Eastern Division, maintaining a two-way communication channel between the Eastern Division and its key stakeholders.
Basically, we exist to promote a reasonable level of mutual understanding and cooperation, between Easter Division and stakeholders, especially staff, general public, and the media, as to engender continued public confidence and service.
The CPR Unit will be creative, innovative in presenting its duties, and will be guided by the Belize Police Department’s media policy, and reports directly to the officer in charge of Eastern Division.”
The new unit will primarily manage the conduct of interviews on crime and community relations by police officers in Belize City, the rural area and San Pedro and Caye Caulker. It will be doing its best, it says, to produce timely information for reporters and update the public among other functions.
Douglas Hyde says the Unit will also be responsible for training police officers and front desk personnel to become more responsive to both the media and the public.
“The Public Relations Unit itself was tasked, likewise, to look at building a better atmosphere, especially when it comes to first point of contact with the general public, our front desk. So that was the idea, to renovate it, and develop it into a way that it’s no longer a normal traditional Police look. It’s going to look as a people-friendly place that you come in. Of course, the service that we will provide, will definitely be on a higher level of being professional, and the persons, who will work at the Front Desk now, will be properly trained in Public Relations, as where we see that the services need to be better provided through that.”
The new policy is only for the Belize District; senior officers elsewhere will carry on as before.