San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is no longer the quaint fishing village that we used to be; it is sad to say this but it’s the truth. For being the number one tourist destination in the country it is very sad to see crime on the rise and island residents are fed up with this situation. On Tuesday, October 31, 2012, a community meeting with the police took place and it was quite obvious that residents have lost their trust in the police.
Elodio Aragon -Officer Commanding Eastern Division, David Henderson - Commissioner of Police, Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. (Area Representative) and Mayor Daniel Guerrero at head table
Master of Ceremonies and Moderator for the evening, Mr. Angel Nuñez commenced the meeting at 6:30 p.m. and invited Assistant Superintendent Vienie Robinson to the podium where she delivered her welcome address after which she gave a short presentation on community policing. In her presentation she mentioned that the island currently counts with 34 police officers and also gave a short report on the total number of crimes which have occurred in the past three months.
The meeting was well attended and most, if not all, who were in attendance vented their frustrations with the current policing activities as crime is on the rise and many cases are just unsolved, forgotten or even worse, the files are lost. Those who took the stand to publicly express their concerns explained matters such as selling of drugs, prostitution, robberies and burglaries, forming more neighborhood watches and getting more police officers for the island, to name a few.
A very interesting part of the consultation was the presentation of a young female student who confirmed that females are harassed and disrespected by police officers in uniform and right in front of the police station. The Assistant Commissioner stated that that is regrettable, intolerable, and that these officers need to be reprimanded and dealt with according to law. However, the Officer in Charge of San Pedro claimed that no such thing happens under her supervision. This was the only segment that took a slight ‘boo’, despite the moderator’s request for no applause or booing.
One island resident stood up and stated, “I would like to know what steps we need to take for things to be done. In June of 2008 we had this same meeting with Crispin Jefferies, Minister Perdomo and Minister Heredia and four years later we are still stuck with the situation. What is worse is that we did our due diligence and the Minister, as well as the Commissioner, did not even respond to our letters. What are we to do for things to get moving and done?”
Others stated that a curfew was much needed so that the young people are not out late at night with idle minds and nothing to do, while others begged for an increase in the number of police officers and proper supervision of man power to maximize the use of our human resources. There was also the request to bring back the BDF to patrol our neighborhoods and give us a sense of safety.
In summary, Island residents are asking for the police department to render more professional services to guarantee our safety and happiness, and to be able to regain confidence in the police. For their part, the panel at the head table promised to step up their action and become more effective. Mayor Danny Guerrero was forceful to categorically state that if residents do not get due satisfaction with the police, to call him at his office and he will see to it that all matters are properly dealt with.
Community members fill up high school auditorium for crime meeting
Assistant Superintendent of Police in San Pedro Ms Vienie Robinson addresses issues and concerns