Historic police promotional ceremony in Belmopan

vlcsnap-2014-07-16-22h42m19s173166 police officers were promoted today at every level and every unit of the police department. It was a historic event as it is the first time that police officers have been promoted in such a transparent and public way. Every single rank saw promotions, from constable all the way up to a new deputy commissioner of police. At this afternoon’s ceremony, Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie congratulated the officers.

 vlcsnap-2014-07-17-08h54m15s105Allen Whylie – Commissioner of Police

“The Belize Police Department is over 120 years old.  I am a serving member for a little over 28 years, and I can tell you for me this is a momentous occasion and a memorial occasion, simply because in my 28 years I cannot ever recall when the Belize Police Department had a Promotion Ceremony for its officers.  I think that is commendable.  It shows the difference that we are trying to take the Belize Police Department to.  The number of persons who passed, we could not promote all, simply because of the fact that we do not have sufficient vacancies.  Nonetheless, I believe that those persons who are here today were the cream of the crop.  They were  the more outstanding officers, not only on the exam, but also before the Promotion Board, and not only before the Promotion Board, but who have been dedicated and performing their duties to the best of their abilities.  So I want to tell those officers who were not successful at this point in time, do not lose heart, remain focused, remain committed, remain dedicated, remain professional, continue to do the discharge of your duties, and rest assured that as soon as additional vacancies are created, those officers will be given their just recognition.

vlcsnap-2014-07-16-22h42m42s147I want to also mention that of all the officers here, there were also 10 officers, who were given special promotion by the commissioner of police after consultation with our senior officers that make up the policy board. 3 of those officers were promoted due to heroism, the acts of bravery that we consider to be heroism. One of them was involved with an assailant after a  robbery had taken place in a banking institution here in Belmopan, he single-handedly caught the robber, he was injured in the process, the robber was injured in the process, we have 2 others from Belize City who like wise going about their duties witness a shooting, they responded fearlessly, pursued the shooter, located him, recovered the weapon, identified him, he was arrested and charged, he pleaded guilty to some of the charges, the victim died, the charge has been upgraded, just last month the preliminary inquiry cause to that matter was submitted and it has been sent up to the Supreme Court. There are 7 other officers who are being promoted due to their, what we consider dedication to duty, they are always there, they are always performing to their maximum, and I make no apologies for promoting these officers, we have got to encourage people to be professional throughout their tour of duty and their time and to do the best .

In regards to the officers who are here, who have been promoted, I want to say to you, to whom much is given – much is expected.  I expect you to discharge your duties, and live up to the service, because of professionalism, integrity, respect and commitment.”

Minister of Police, Hon. John Saldivar, oversaw the march in of the officers and helped to issue the promotional regalia. He then addressed the officers, speaking about the reason for the promotions.

vlcsnap-2014-07-17-09h29m24s59Hon. John Saldivar – Minister of National Security

“When I was the Minister of Public Service  a few years ago, I did a tour of almost all Police Stations across this country, and one of the biggest complaints received then, as well as the biggest complaint received when I took my first tour as Minister of Police, was about the promotion process and the criteria, or lack of criteria, for promotion in the Police Department.  I hope that after our Commissioner has outlined the process that we took this time around, that you will agree with me that we have come a long way.  Over the last few months as we have been trying to put this promotion together, the Commissioner has been consistently and constantly reminding me, that he needed to have his NCOs.  How many of you know what is NCOs.  I have only learnt since I became the Minister.  But the NCOs, those of  you here today, that have been receiving your promotions, I have come to realize how so important you are to this Department.  The Corporals and the Sergeants, the ones that are supervising the Constables out there, those are your NCOs, the backbone of the Belize police Department, and I salute each and every one of you that is receiving your promotion here this afternoon.”

There were a few complaints and allegations that the process of choosing persons for promotion was unfair. However, the commissioner outlined the procedures for promotions today, saying that they incorporated examinations even though the promotion regulations don’t require them. The process took a little over a year as it started on May 9, 2013.

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police

“Instructions went out in departmental orders in 2013 that we would have promotions. A date was set, a syllabus was published and persons were invited to apply; those who were eligible, an internal process took place where each officer’s personal file was checked and once they met the criteria, then a notice was published within the departmental orders as to who were eligible. Those who were ineligible were also informed that they were ineligible. Some were ineligible either because they did not have the years of service or they had been convicted of some disciplinary infraction over the past twelve months.”

Among the many persons who were promoted was Gino Peck who has a criminal record. If you recall, Mr Pech was arrested, tried, and convicted of ammunition charges. Nonetheless, Commissioner told us that Gino Peck was promoted because he is an exemplary officer.

Allen Whylie – Commissioner of Police

“The authority to promote rests with the Commissioner of Police.  we have got to look at the entire picture in terms of Mr Peck and his performance.  Yes, we all know the situation that involves him, as we had indicated prior.  If it was a different time, I believe it would have been held differently.  I don’t think that because of how that unfolded that Mr Peck should have been punished by not being promoted.  He is an excellent officer.  He works excellently.  Nobody has any complaint about that. 

[With regards to] Mr. Segura, not only he did a phenomenal job as the Officers Commanding Eastern Police Division, which us the most difficult position or post to hold within the department operationally, but he is also the more senior of all the assistant commissioners of police. So he was worthy of, deserving of, and he has been promoted.”

Minister John Saldivar says that the promotions will hopefully motivate the police officers to continue working towards the reduction of crime.

Hon. John Saldivar

“Our record over last year in fighting crime was very good in terms of caparisons to other years.  It was, perhaps, so good that it might be hard to match, but we will continue to do our best to match last year’s figures and do even better.  If we look at the successes that we have had over the past year, and compare to the first six months of this year, we can see some slippages, slippages which if not carefully studied can give a false impression on the effectiveness of our Police Department. And while it is easy to judge the department by perceptions, perceptions largely created by a media hungry for news, it is so easy for one to judge. It is not fair to judge the department on notions and emotions. The department should be judged by statistics; the department must be judged objectively.

Over this past 6 months for instance, a statistic not brought out in the news is that though we have seen a spike in shootings and murders in Belize City of recent, Belize City is still, 14 murders lower than our statistics for last year, and last year was our best year, so Belize City is still doing better than we did last year.  Last year this time at the end of June 2013, we had forty-six murders in the City of Belize. This year at the end of June, we had only thirty-two. Of course one murder is one murder too much and our Police Department continues to do its best to deal with the scourge.  But as we go about our business of protecting, please judge us objectively.”

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