Operation ACT - Addressing Crime Together Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 November 2017 00:00

2017 has seen a record number of murders in the country of Belize. While crime on a whole has seen a downward trend, murders have been on the increase. In the past few months the number of murders, especially in the city reached insufferable proportions. It was found out that the murders which are mainly as a result of turf, drugs and its proceeds in some instances were being perpetrated intra-gangs. So, it was no longer limited to warring factions and the eventual repercussions due to revenge were unacceptable and thus the Government of Belize took steps to address this.

The Honorable Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs under whose portfolio The Police Department falls along with CEO George Lovell met with the top brass of the Police Department  to map a way forward. After several strategic meetings, Operation Act was carved out.  On Friday, October 27 at 6:00a.m. Operation ACT hit the streets of Belize City and in a press conference at the Raccoon Street Police Station at 10:00am that same morning it was presented to the Public via the Media.

Operation ACT (Addressing Crime Together) is a multipronged target oriented, intelligence led operation which has as its main objective the uprooting of the main causes of gang warfare which have eventually led to murders. Personnel and resources have been drawn from every available sector within the department. It will have the participation of the Gangs Suppression Unit, Anti-Narcotics Unit, Special Branch, Crimes Investigation Branch, Special Assignment Team, Mobile Interdiction Team, Joint Intelligence Coordinating Center, Special Patrol Unit and Patrol Branch and the Professional Standards Branch. Command Centers were deployed to key areas of concern which were based on analysis of the selected areas to try to arrest the current crime trend. The initial groundswell of personnel is expected to curb the incidents of murders in the immediate short term.

The Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie has for his part sounded the warning for those that choose to defy the law, “We will be in their faces, we will be in their homes and we will utilize all available laws to arrest them”.  He furthers states that, “We will target, disrupt and arrest known gang members and their leaders. We will proactively target individuals and groups engaged in the trafficking of illicit drugs, firearms and ammunition,” he said.

Operation ACT will run until the end of January with the sustained disruption of gang activity in the selected areas and also in the greater Belize City area. So after that what next?  The plan consists of revising it at the end of January where the second phase will be implemented.  It also consists of a Mediation component which will give the gang members an alternative which will see them on the law abiding side. This complement will be handled by the Commander of the Professional Standards Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Chester Williams. This is being done with a view to have mediation not with the criminals and police but among the criminals themselves. The police will serve as the Mediator and it will not be actively seeking gang members to come to the table, this will have to be a choice made by the gang members themselves.

Mr. Williams put it clearly, “you have the carrots on one hand and you have the stick on the other. The issue of mediation is not per say to give people break to commit crime. It is basically an avenue that is created to ensure that young people who have conflict with each other, that they can come to a table to mediate,” he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has also pledged full support and has initially acquired new vehicles and is in the process of purchasing a number of much needed equipment which are needed for this operation to be a success. Minister of State Aragon has pledged his and the Ministry’s full support, “The Ministry of Home Affairs is supporting this Operation 100% and we have thus far acquired 15 new vehicles, and we are in the process of acquiring all the necessary equipment for our officers on the ground,” he said.

The Police Department recognizes that they alone cannot effectively address the scourge of crime. They have asked the public for their cooperation and support. Two cell numbers have been made available to the public for information to be given to the police for action. The numbers to call are Digicel 634-5168 and Smart 660-1164. All information will be handled with utmost confidentiality by ACP Desiree Magdaleno of Eastern Division.