Commissioner of Police, David Henderson held the first of a series of consultations with community members in Santa Elena Town, Cayo District last Thursday, October 18th, 2012. Commissioner Henderson was joined on this tour by Superintendent Aaron Guzman, Officer Commanding of the three Western Regions; Superintendent Ralph Moody, Officer Commanding of the San Ignacio Police Formation; Senior Superintendent Deserie Phillips, Officer Commanding, Community Policing and Inspector Dehann Augustine, National Coordinator for the Jasmine Alert Program. (A similar meeting by the Police Department will be held in San Ignacio Town at the Center for Employment Training on Buena Vista Street at 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 25th, 2012.)
Superintendent Ralph Moody provided statistical analysis of the geographic area under his responsibility. The San Ignacio Police Formation oversees the security of the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and the regions from Blackman Eddy to the Clarissa Falls junction. Superintendent Moody and his team act in support of Bullet Tree Falls, Santa Familia, Spanish Lookout, Duck Run 1,2 and 3, Buena Vista, Los Tambos, Yalbac, San Marcos, Santa Teresita, Billy White, Seven Miles, Barton Creek, Esperanza, Central Farm, Unitedville, Georgville, San Antonio and Cristo Rey Village. (The newly acquired 2.5 turbo Mahindra vehicle is expected to boost mobility for this region.)
The crime figures, revealed by Superintendent Moody for his area, indicates that for both the periods of January to September and its corresponding period for 2012, the total crime incidents decreased by 20.5%. Murders for 2012 was 4 and for 2011, it was 8, a decrease by 50% The burglary rates for this specific area also showed a decrease of 20.7% with 145 cases in 2011 and 115 cases in 2012. For the aggravated burglaries, there were 19 cases in 2011 and 8 in 2012. Focusing only between August and September, there were 38 cases of burglary in 2011 and 17 in 2012, a decrease by 55.5%
A further analysis of Superintendent Moody’s presentation shows that the crimes committed in San Ignacio and Santa Elena are mostly done by males between the ages of 14 to 35 years, between the hours of 6:00 pm to 4:00 am. Their mode of operations being, gaining entry via main doors, or through back doors or windows, utilizing firearms, machetes and knives to gain entry into homes. The target by these criminals, are mostly the business community and homes within the Twin Towns; with the stealthy work being also directed in the Santa Cruz Area, Hillview, Kontiki, Bradley’s Bank, Santiago Juan Layout and surrounding villages.
Faced with these and other incidents, in which Mayor John August has called, “…vicious murders in these communities…”, the Western communities have coalesced to meet the challenge.
Sr. Superintendent Dezerie Phillips, who is in charge of Community Police initiatives, commended the resident “…This area has been displaying a true role model of what is community policing,” she said to the applause from residents.
With 30 years in the Police Force and having prosecuted at both the National and International level, Commissioner of Police David Henderson encouraged the residents of Cayo to work together.
“…The police can't do it by themselves, we do need the support of the community”, he said. “When you look at the crime situation, it tells you that it is a total social breakdown, within our culture, we have lost our value, now people don't know who lives next to them.”
Commissioner Henderson informed the community that both the Mexicans and Americans have offered help in the fight against crime. The British offered assistance last week for three senior officers to do training in management and investigation; there was also an effort with INTERPOL. But along with a promised review of the entire Department’s fleet of vehicles, Commissioner Henderson emphasized that the community played an important supporting role.
“If you call the police... the police must respond...if there is any concern feel free to call us or Belmopan.”
That supporting role offered by the community to the Police became evident most recently, said Superintendent Aaron Guzman, when Suzette “Purple” Martinez’s body was found in San Ignacio.
“On the morning that Martinez body was found, there was an operation taking place in Belmopan…by 10:30, that person was in custody [within five hours]”
“I just ask for your continued support; by assistance given, we were able to put together enough evidence to charge [someone] at least for handling stolen goods. Without the support of the San Ignacio residents…we would have been at a loss.”
Guzman was referring to that brave Cayo resident, who offered his private vehicle to assist the police in its investigatory work, on that fateful morning, at a time when all San Ignacio Police vehicles were involved in joint operations with Belmopan Police.
Inspector Dehanne Augustine provided much information on the Jasmine Alert Program, launched on July 31st and activated just last week. According to Augustine, the name is derived from Jasmine Lowe, and the children who went ahead of Jasmine. The program hopes to instantly alert the community, to assist in the search for and safe recovery of children that are less than seventeen years of age. Augustine informed the gathering that when a child goes missing, it is recommended that the hard copy of a photograph be brought to Police, with the photograph having been taken less than six months ago. She also suggested that police be given adequate descriptions such as the name of the child, age, type or color of clothing. Considered crucial is a description of the person the child was last seen and the vehicle involved, if one was used. After review by organizers, a text message will then be sent by both BTL and SMART, giving the location of vehicle, description of kidnapper and victim. The text of limited characters will stay on for 48 hours. Although deactivated after that time, the police work will continue and a press officer will inform the public on what has been achieved during those critical hours.