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Police’s mea culpa: behaviour at airstrip “unprofessional,” “overzealous”

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Posted: Monday, April 4, 2022. 10:17 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Veteran police officer and current Communications Director for the Belize Police Department, Assistant Superintendent of Police Fitzroy Yearwood, has sent the word from on high that the behaviour of the officers involved in the fracas with 19-year-old Shamar Foster on Friday is intolerable.

After his review of the video that went viral over the weekend (Foster’s family says they have more footage from different angles), ASP Yearwood concluded at this morning’s press briefing that “It is very unfortunate that our police officers operated in such an unprofessional manner. I can assure the general public that our commissioner of Police and Minister of Police don’t tolerate behavior like this. The use of so many obscenities, along with his behavior, I think at one point I saw the person’s phone or device that they were using fell to the ground…. The approach from the onset was bad. I think I saw where the person being asked to be searched got up and put his hands over his head, which would mean he was cooperating. For our officers to act in an overzealous manner it is uncalled for and the commissioner has made his directives to the Professional Standard Branch and I will update you as to which course the Professional Standards Branch takes against these officers.”

And in his view, the woman Corporal of Police’s behaviour was not becoming of her role as supervisor: “I am certain that the corporal should have taken control of the situation. That is why we promote people as supervisors. When you see an officer going off tangent, you, the supervisor, should come in as the controlling person where you could have even backed away the constable from that situation so as not to embarrass the department and him any further. Like I saw some comments and people were asking, how would you know how a tour guide looks [and] so forth? It is not that.”

He continued, “In this case the upholder is as bad as the thief. If you, the supervisor, didn’t know what your role was at that time, to bring that situation to normalcy or to put it to a complete halt, I cannot say that from what I saw in the video this person was being life threatening to the police or uncooperative. I don’t know what kind of say that officer was having but his behavior is not going to be tolerated by the Police Department. The public is outraged by that video. We have to do everything in our power to reassure the public that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. But, any ranking member of the Police Department, from constable up to the commander we took an oath for preservation of life and property and I did not see anything in that video that warranted the officer to be so aggressive.”

In a separate story, we will have ASP Yearwood’s comments on the continuing issue of how police handle being caught on video and the general procedure for searching individuals, houses and other points of interest.

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