Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2019. 6:49 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced during his Independence Day address that the issue of crime and violence is being fought on two fronts – local and multinational – with a host of partners.
On the local front, GOB is pursuing efforts to restore safety to Belize City, purchasing through Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), 200 new cameras “that come with advanced facial and license plate recognition software.” Training is underway for more than 200 new police officers, joining the thousands already in the command of Commissioner Chester Williams.
It is also, said Barrow, “exploring with the Taiwanese their willingness to help based on the model safe cities program they have already pioneered in their own country. One way or another, smart solutions will make for increased monitoring, interactions with not just the police but fire and ambulance services, and lead to better policing and a dramatic increase overall in citizen security.”
On the social front, Barrow committed in the last year of his term to attacking the social conditions he says breeds the subculture “culture that blights particularly our urban areas [which] will not soon go away… Fighting poverty, it is clear, is the best way to fight crime.”
This falls under the third phase of the Belize City Southside Poverty Alleviation Project, valued at 12 million dollars, to provide new or rebuilt houses for families in targeted constituencies and further infrastructural initiatives.
The Government continues to promote the food pantry and BOOST programs as “the anchor of our pro-poor policies, uplifting continuously the lives of disadvantaged Belizeans.”
On the international front, Barrow warned that as much as Belize thinks of itself as paradise, we are not immune to the “sundry illegalities” – drugs, trafficking in persons and others – for which it is a transit route between the Americas. With the Americans clamping down on immigration, he noted, Belize is a good second choice – and that presents a pressing issue: “how we, with our resource constraints and our own gang sub culture, deal with this conundrum is one of the pressing issues of our time. It is one with which the country’s National Security Council is currently fully engaged.”
No mention was made of any active pursuit of crime fighting techniques such as a forensic laboratory, which some have called for in lieu of continued road construction.
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