CARSI donation assists crime fighters

vlcsnap-2013-02-28-18h40m16s77We have previously reported on donations from the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) to local organizations including Police. Yesterday Crime Stoppers Belize, the Community Policing Unit and The National Neighbourhood Watch Program received support from the program. Crime stoppers Belize Executive Cris Garcia thanked her partners and the Police for their assistance:

Cris Garcia – Crime stoppers Belize Executive:
vlcsnap-2013-02-28-18h43m17s126This project started quite some time ago, when I had to meet with the Community Policing, and plan what the strategy will be in order for us to get this grant.  So we had a meeting with Senior Superintendent Desiree Phillips.  We met with Sergeant Takamo.

Also benefitting was Neighborhood Watch, which according to its coordinator Gilbert Pitts is trying to revive a flagging franchise.

Gilbert Pitts – National Neighborhood Watch Coordinator:
vlcsnap-2013-02-28-18h45m02s144We have a lot of groups that have become dormant, and so we’re trying to rejuvenate them. But the ones that has been active and stayed active, we started with them first. Then we try to bring the other ones back, because these items we got to be accountable for.  So as long as they have the items and they have to utilize it, report back to us, let us know know how they’re using it.  When we get some more, the other groups that come on stream will be getting their share.

Pitts told us how the distribution of the donation and how it will be used:

Gilbert Pitts – National Neighborhood Watch Coordinator:   
vlcsnap-2013-02-28-18h46m34s27We have applied for a CARSI grant, and we’ve received over US$200,000?  It will be coming in three phases.  This is the first phase. Right now we have selected 20 Neighbourhood Watch groups from around the country, and we are issuing out today lights, whistles, two-way radios, and handcuffs.  These are the items that will be issued to the groups today. In the second phase, we’ll be issuing signs, more handcuffs, more radios and so on to the different groups.  This is from Punta Gorda, to Corozal, to San Pedro, all across the country. We have selected 20 groups. We’ve selected the more active groups right now. With this the other groups might see this, and start to become more active, and in the next selection they will be a part of the donation also.

U.S. Ambassador Vinai Thummallapally paid tribute to programs like the ones assisted.

H. E. Vinai Thumalapally – US Ambassador to Belize:  
vlcsnap-2013-02-28-18h47m15s198I’m particularly fond of this project, because it not only represents cooperation between Government agencies, the project is also an example of Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, and communities workig together, to maximize resources and benefits.  We already have seen success with a similar project in the Cayo area. The San Ignacio Police Department, along with the Cayo Neigbourhood Watch Association, have been working together closely for many months, and as recently Minister Saldiva rightly recognized a few weeks ago, we have a dramatic decrease in crimes and violence in the San Ignacio area.  Crime was down over 40% in the San Ignacio area in January alone, an amazing example of [how] Police and community cooperation can have significant impact on crime.

The Ambassador also hit back at those prone to criticize the Police for self-congratulation, noting the situation in San Ignacio as an example.

H. E. Vinai Thumalapally – US Ambassador to Belize:
I understand that just taking January’s results, and using Minister Saldiva’s comments, some critics may say it’s premature, but we don’t believe so.  We believe the success in Cayo is directly related to the cooperation and the success of Belizean in that part of the country.  We’re all aware of the common challenges our nations and citizens face to provide safe environments within communities, and for our children to excel. Yes, we all know the realities, but we are really committed to the journey together that leads us to a safer tomorrow.

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