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Murders slightly ahead of 2021 pace at mid-July; Home Affairs Minister thinking ‘long-term’

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Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2022. 10:06 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Our unofficial count of murders to date for 2022 totals 63, slightly ahead of the mark of 60 through the end of July 2021.

There have been three murders so far this month – Emerson Nunez of Dangriga last week, followed by Tyrone King and most recently Dwayne White – after 13 murders were recorded in the month of June according to the Belize Crime Observatory (BCO).

Last week, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams observed that, in relation to the low murder counts for June and July last year, “to beat those 2 months this year is going to be difficult, so I do anticipate that by the end of July we will still be above last year’s figure, but when we go to August, I think last year August we had either 17 or 19 (It was actually 20). I do believe that for the month of August this year we should be able to cut into that and be able to see how the numbers begin to dip and I believe by November we should be below last year’s figure. That is our objective that we are pushing on. I am pushing my commanders, they are pushing themselves, pushing their people to ensure that have a murder count this year which is lower than last year. If it is that we don’t achieve that and we are close to where we were last year, then it’s still a significant achievement for us concerning the fact that we are no longer under quarantine regulations.”

And on Friday, Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa told reporters during the Department of Youth Services/Leadership Intervention Unit joint graduation ceremony that economic conditions are in part to blame, and as part of the long-term strategy job creation and skill training will be as crucial as “more boots on the ground”: “strategies like this from the LIU, the multi-sectoral approach is extremely important. [We] have greater patrols on the streets, especially in Belize City. We have made some adjustments in the leadership in Belize City in particular within the ranks of the department and so we’re hoping that we can adjust those strategies to curb crime.”

Musa noted that regional partners with noted crime issues such as Jamaica and El Salvador are finding out that repeated, continued lockdowns are temporary salves at best: “…countries [like] Jamaica have spiraled out of control with murders every single day and they have been employing states of emergencies every single day and it’s not proving any results and that is why forums and platforms like this and strategies like this are very important for the long term. You look at El Salvador, they have locked up all of their so-called criminals in jail, I think 40,000+, but eventually, whether it’s in a month or two, he will have to let those individuals go because it goes against human rights and constitutional rights and so those things are short term fixes and I know it is sort of like morphine, I think that is how Dr. Gayle refers to states of emergencies because it gives everybody that very temporary satisfaction but at the end of the day it’s not for long term solutions.”

The police ranks are expected to swell by another 150 by the end of the year even as the Department drums out more bad apples, and a switch of two up-and-comers – Alejandro Cowo to San Pedro and Chris Noble to Belize City, will infuse fresh ideas.

 

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