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Minister of Home Affairs: The nation ‘buying in’ to new way of fighting crime

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2022. 3:55 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Kareem Musa, contends that the crime situation has been misrepresented by the Opposition.

2021 was a lower year for crime compared to even the worst of the UDP years, he argued, except for the anomalous year of 2020 which was marked by a national shutdown.

By the metric of murders, there were 38 murders in the first three months of 2018 (up to March 24); 27 in 2019; 38 in 2020 (before the implementation of the lockdowns), and 22 in 2021. At present, the figure is 26 for this year with a week to go.

And it is not true, Musa said, that the Opposition has been shut out of plans with the Leadership Intervention Unit (LIU), but nonetheless, they are not a part because there was a risk of disingenuousness on their part: “I will not allow any disingenuous member of the Opposition to come and trample the good work of the Leadership Intervention Unit, or to contaminate the program with ‘bad-mindedness’ for cheap political points. Solving the crime situation is way bigger than the ego of the Leader of the Opposition.”

The Unit now has a $2.9 million budget to cover apprenticeship and life skills programs, covering classes in literacy, numeracy, emotional intelligence, and skills training in plumbing, electrical repair, and so on. The ‘Youth to Grow’ farm project, using land donated by Dr. Alvaro Rosado to begin growing their own crops, and providing yet another alternative.

With regard to re-arming the Police Department, Musa said police are back on wheels (40 new vehicles); in communication (a rebuilt digital radio system) and on the ground (new substations in San Narciso, Corozal; Santa Elena Town, Cayo; and Caye Caulker, Belize District).

Revised Police Department plans and procedures will return it to its roots, said Musa, even as it opens a new front in the war on crime in cyberspace with a new cyber-crime center. Belize has sought assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in developing cybersecurity strategies, and is adding geographic information systems (GIS) to the Crime Information Management System (CIMS) to create real-time data to prevent and stop crime.

The end result will be a change in culture that welcomes new officers to work with each other and the community – making additions to the COMPSTAT and RPLACB offices and making every effort to “weed out” bad officers. In June, new Human Rights and Use of Force Guidelines will be rolled out to reduce police brutality and a check is being made of detention and incarceration cells nationwide.

With the restrictions due to COVID-19 being slowly eliminated, the return of the GREAT Program, Do the Right Thing Program and similar programs will be reintroduced, Musa announced. And a Sprite ‘Live Life’ Basketball Tournament sponsored by Bowen and Bowen begins in May.

The common thread through these programs, Musa said, is buy-in from community leaders and stakeholders, mentioning that a sports day is being held in the Lake Independence area this Sunday with the AVP Transformers Group.

 

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