Crime and policing in Belmopan

On the first of July, the Belmopan Police Department received a new Commander. He goes by the name of

Superintendent Henry Jemmoth and he has policing experience both in Belize City and San Pedro. This morning, we sat down with Supt. Jemmoth to hear what his experience has been like so far as commander at the Belmopan Police Department. Jemmoth told us that he has noticed an increase of chopping and robberies in the Belmopan area. He shared what the department is doing to curve these crimes.

Superintendent Henry Jemmoth, OC Belmopan: What we’re noticing is that they’re having a lot of robbery and chopping incidents. We have put more police on the ground. We have even put intelligence led police in, so we have watched the time when these incidents are occurring, and we have gotten man power to be placed in these strategic areas where these incidents are happening. We have the chopping incident in the Rivera area, we have the chopping incident in the area of Maya Mopan, we also had 2 incidents of chopping in Armenia Village. So what we have done is strategically placed officers to conduct stop and search in these areas. What we plan to boost up is to start charging persons to carrying machetes after hours. By law, we allow people to carry machete from 6-6 because of work time, whilst these people are caught with machetes after 6, they will be charged because that is contributing to a lot of these chopping incidents.

Jemmoth added that most of these incidents are being reported in the outskirts of Belmopan. He says that the Police Department is conducting mediation in those areas to discover the cause.

Sup. Henry Jemmoth, OC Belmopan Police Dept: Also, alongside that we are trying to do mediation within these areas to find what is the problem within these areas, why are people resorting to violence within these areas? I could tell you that basically Belmopan the core; we have not had much crime from the core. It’s from the neighbouring areas around Belmopan. So that is what we are working on, notwithstanding the issues that we have inside of Belmopan. But most of the problems come from the exterior villages. So we have put police in place to counteract that.

According to Jemmoth, since his appointment, the Belmopan Police Department has made several arrests in connection with robberies, including an arrest of three well known Belize City criminals in the Village of Cotton Tree who were planning to burglarize a store in the area.

Superintendent Henry Jemmoth, OC Belmopan: I can tell you that since I have been here over a month, I have pushed and I have seen that we have made a number of key arrests. We had arrest 3 or 4 persons in the period of the last month for the walkway robberies. We had also arrested a Florentino Coc and another guy Erman Hildo. Those were for robberies as well. We’re moving forward. It did not make any news but we made a house search in Cotton Tree where there were 3 known criminals from Belize City, hiding out planning to rob. We got information that they wanted to rob a store in cotton tree, and we managed to foil that robbery. We detained those guys, we checked if they were wanted; very senior guys that I know from the city after my experience in working in the city, so we’re noticing that we have what we have transient criminals; these are people that leave their area and come to our municipality and doing crime. What we’re doing is that, one, have the public work with us so that we can address these issues, and like as I said, if you see something, say something.

Jemmoth says that he is giving himself a hundred days to see some changes in the city and while he has plans for a safer Belmopan City, according to Jemmoth, one of his prime focuses is to fashion the Belmopan Police Station into a more efficient place of service for the general public.

Superintendent Henry Jemmoth, OC Belmopan: I’m giving myself 100 days. I think 100 days is good enough for us to start seeing some immediate changes. Since taking over, there is the administrative factors that needs to be address such as our police officers welfare being attended to. Do we have sufficient weapons? Do we have the right equipment to execute our duty? So all this is being put into place, also we’re putting in standard procedures, notwithstanding what has been there, but to tighten supervision and accountability of everything that occurs at this station. So we’re putting in structures so that the whole department here in Belmopan works more efficient. I believe that if we can do that, first start by making the station a more efficient place for people to come and give statements, custom service, then we can actually go out and start dealing with the other crime situations. But, I believe that coming to the station, everyone that comes to the station comes for a service, and I believe that that service needs to be remarkable or that person should at least get some type of satisfaction when coming to the station, so that is what we’re trying to instil. So that officers address people properly and try to solve, and get those issues solved, and then in return we can deal with the bigger issues in terms of patrol. I am doing internal and then I will do external.

We also asked Superintendent Jemmoth to tell us what transparency means for him when it comes to reporting crimes, as the Commander of the Belmopan Police Department.  Here is how he responded

Superintendent Henry Jemmoth, OC Belmopan: I plan to do is to honestly report crime in Belmopan. Honestly report crime. IF there is a murder, a small case of a common assault, a domestic abuse, I plan to report crime honestly. I will not have people live in this façade that Belmopan is a safer place that anywhere in the country, and the opposite is happening. My first thing is to be accountable and to also give that sense of secureness but also be honest about what is happening.

Jemmoth added that the Department will be installing barcodes at various locations in the city for mobile patrols to check in as a form of accountability.

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