No policemen to work at sex trade establishments Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 February 2018 00:00

Police Commissioner Allen Whylie has announced that he will be carefully managing police officers and those special duties that they carry out for the business community. They will now have to strictly comply with the police regulations and apply to him to work these special duties.

Readers may know what these special duties are. Police officers often earn extra income, kind of like overtime salaries, by providing security to different business establishments. The problem is that some of these special duties were flagged by the US Government’s Trafficking in Persons (TIPS) Report of 2017. The Belize Government has been working hard to improve the country’s tier 3 grade by the US State Department, which is the worst assessment that the US officials give countries. That Tier 3 label tells the world that from the US Government’s perspective, Belize is almost indifferent to human trafficking that is “rampant”.

In their latest TIPS report, outlining the failures to interdict and prosecute human trafficking offenders, the US State Department said, “The government’s enforcement activity against suspected trafficking consisted of referrals from other government agencies and NGOs as well as raids on venues in Belize’s sex trade. Few trafficking crimes were uncovered during these raids due to limited intelligence-gathering, inconsistent application of formal victim identification procedures, and suspected complicity among some law enforcement officials.”

The most relevant observation in the TIPS report reads, “Many off-duty police officers provided security for sex trade establishments, which may have inhibited police from investigating allegations of trafficking in the sex trade and may have dissuaded victims from reporting trafficking. The government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any officials for complicity in trafficking crimes despite reports…”

So, it specifically mentions these special duties, suggesting the perception that police are on the payroll of the traffickers. Some officers provide security to different bars where human trafficking victims are employed as waitresses, and who may be engaging in the commercial sex trade.

Reports reached the press that the Police Commissioner Whylie was going to crack down on officers who work these special duties.

The Commissioner was asked about it in a press conference held on Tuesday, February 6, and he confirmed that he would be taking action.

He said “I will be issuing an instruction that no police officer should work special duty at any business establishment, period. And those officer who want to work at any establishment will need to apply to the commissioner of police. I will review those applications, I will ensure that it is legitimate, above the board businesses and then I will make a decision… The police standing orders authorizes officers who want to work special duty that they must apply to the commissioner of police. That system had been warped and disregarded and there are officers taking on all kinds of special duties and making their own arrangement. There is also where persons once authorized to work, the money should be paid in by the proprietor who hired them to the department. It is entered in and then they are given a receipt and then there is a time period where those officers would then get that processed through the account section and get their payment. There is a lot of over the board things and this allows some officers to be compromised where it would appear that they are working for and proving protection to certain business establishments, rather than being there to preserve law and order. It will stop, because as I said tomorrow I will issue an instruction and any officer found in contravention will be dealt with disciplinary… The police department is not a private security force.”

Already, there are police officers, who depend on the extra income, who are reacting to this decision to carefully manage how these special duties will take place. The hope is that their applications for the special duty will meet with success.