Yesterday we told you about a 3 day training workshop for 35 police officers attached to Cayo Division most from the Belmopan formation. The workshop started yesterday with an opening ceremony at the Police Training Academy in Belmopan. On the Agenda for the three day training workshop is how to respond to domestic abuse cases. Belize has seen in recent months a rise in murders arising from domestic abuse cases and as a result the Police Department is stepping up its game in trying to curb this growing trend and the Belmopan Police formation is doing its part through this training initiative.
“Policing evolves, so we have to deal with the emerging trends. One of those trends is murders through domestic violence and we had to address it. That was one of the subject areas that we asked, if you want to say beg, the facilitators to please impart their expertise in that area so that we could better handle the situations when they arise and we want to create some awareness. Following this course, we will be doing some media rounds to create some awareness , especially for our area. It is not that prevalent as the other parts of the country but it could come to us in other areas. We want to preempt things, we want to be very proactive and deal with it before it becomes an epidemic.”
We spoke to the professionals, who are facilitating this training workshop. They told us what they will be teaching our officers and how they respond to cases of domestic violence in their home country the United States of America.
“What we like to bring here is to have the officers recognize what domestic violence is. Domestic violence is not just the abuse but it is also the mental/emotional abuse. What we want to do is to bring to the officers an understanding of signs and symptoms that domestic violence has occurred in a house hold.
Emanuel Pech – Plus TV Reporter
“When a police officer arrives on a scene, what are some of the things that they would be looking at ?”
Srg. Scott Keenan
“What we want to look at is obviously the surroundings, is the house a mess – is it in disarray. We want to separate the individuals and get each of their stories. As we are talking to them, we are looking at them – is there any physical signs of abuse, is there bruises, injuries, cuts that are visible. We also want to look at the emotional state. Is the person shying away, is the person look as if they are in fear when speaking with us. We look for all that in conjucntion.”
In the states, we have a series of steps that we go through, it evolves around making a domestic violence arrest. Our main thing, as Sergeant Keenan just said, once we have detected all those things then we decide to make an arrest. We pretty much find out who the primary aggressor is in that situation based on the signs and symptoms of violence . We then make an arrest and find the victim a safe place to stay.”
“We go to the scene and its too late. That is the story we are getting in Belize. You go to a scene and domestic violence has already claimed a victim. That has been the trend recently.”
Srg. Scott Keenan
“One of the things that we do, do is that it is not about arrest. We also offer domestic violence services to the battered victim. Whether it is a woman or man, we find them a safe place to stay. Most of the time in our courts, when they deal with domestic violence, they will issue a court order that a person attends domestic violence training,. That training is teaching the person that is involved in the domestic violence how to better use their anger and how to dissipate their anger. It is not about just about an arrest, we try to educate the victim and the suspect also in why domestic violence is wrong, what it does to a family, what it does to children – so it is a whole education process not just that we are throwing someone in jail.”