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Improving Island Safety

Neighborhood Watch Presidents Association meets with Ministers

On Saturday, February 26, the Neighborhood Watch Presidents Association met with Minister of Police & Public Safety – Hon. Douglas Singh, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation – Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Human Development and Social Transformation – Hon. Eden Martinez and CEO of the Ministry of Human Development – Ms. Judith Alpuche. The meeting was held to discuss major topics that concern the island’s safety.

Mr. Steve Spiro – Head of the Neighborhood Watch Presidents Association along with Mr. Terry Colbert (South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch) and Mr. Forrest Jones (President of Esmeralda Neighborhood Watch) met with members of the media on Tuesday, March 2, to discuss what went on in the meeting with the ministers. Three major concerns addressed were (i) Proper Lighting in poorly lit areas (ii) Having a Social Worker Full time on the Island and (iii) Having a manifest of all passengers on water taxis.

Having proper lighting in poorly lit areas has always been a major concern as these areas are prone to be hotspots for criminal activities. A proper survey was done and it is estimated that 30 to 40 light posts are needed throughout the island. One of the major setbacks to obtaining this number of light posts is that the budget for almost all constituencies has been cut down but it is safe to say that San Pedro will be receiving at least 10 new light posts which will be properly distributed especially in crime vulnerable areas.

Another point addressed was the fact that San Pedro is a growing island and a social worker is much needed. Hon. Martinez, Minister of Human Development assured the Neighborhood Watch Presidents Association that as of April 1st of this year San Pedro will have a full-time social worker – Mr. Adam Kay. Mr. Kay is from Orange Walk Town and has over five years of experience.

Having a social worker permanently on the island will help to alleviate some of the strain in the police department and truancy officers. Mr. Kay will also be in charge of Foster Care and seeing that children are attending school. (Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent or have any questions can contact the Director of Human Services Department Mrs. Ava Pennill at

Lastly the topic of having a passenger manifest on water taxis was addressed to the ministers as a major public safety concern. Manifests are extremely important as it would help in many ways, such as not having a vessel overcrowded and ensuring the safety of all passengers. And it would also help the police department in investigations.

“Public safety is a major concern; we have noticed that many students take the last boat back to the island and there are many children and adults travelling and arriving late at night,” commented Terry. “Manifest will be helpful in case of emergencies to dispatch rescue squads as well as in monitoring criminal activities to and from the island.”

Although nothing concrete was set as to whether or not the manifests will be done, the Presidents Association are optimistic that all will go well as the ministers said “it is a matter of time” and will be discussed into further detail at other meetings with the proper authorities.

The Neighborhood Watches have increased in the island to eight, all of which  play a vital role in crime prevention on the island. A Major Crimes Comparison Report was also presented during the meeting.

Category      2008    2009    2010    2011

Murder                     3             3                3             –
Rape                        1              1               3              –
Robbery                   22           26             12            –
Carnal Knowledge    5            2               12            –
Burglary                   91          117            63            8
Theft                       101         102             59            6
TOTAL                   223          251            152          14

Neighborhood Watch programs do help the Police Department in crime prevention. It is very important for residents to take part in these programs and help the community to be as crime free as possible. Neighborhood Watch groups meet once every month. Anyone interested in joining the Neighborhood Watch groups kindly contact the presidents listed below.

North Area – President – Scott Harnish – 610-6353.
San Pedrito Area – President – Roberto Castillo – 670-2624.
Esmeralda Area – President – Forrest Jones – 610-4550.
San Pablo Area – President – Jonathan Muller – 673-6464.
South End Area – President – Flor Nuñez – 226-2450.
DFC Area – President – Janine Lopez – 622-4101.
Middle Island Area – President Jan Van Noord – 678-4552.
DFC East – President Luis Cabral – 670-8518.

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