People’s Coalition of Cayo Focus on Pranksters Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00

In a meeting last week with the People’s Coalition of Cayo PCC (a local body seeking for a further reduction in crime in the Cayo Area), Officer in Charge of San Ignacio Police, Ralph Moody, referred to the most recent crime statistics for San Ignacio and Santa Elena and surrounding areas. According to Moody, some 246.3 grams of cannabis was confiscated last month while in January 88.7 grams were removed from the streets. There were three attempted murders last month and a similar number for January of this year. While the number of robberies dropped from 4 to 1 during the January to February 2013 time period, cases of theft swung upward from 2 to 10. Burglaries were also problematic, increasing from 2 in January to 7 in February. Superintendent Ralph Moody reported that the number of reported crime cases for January 2013 were the lowest ever. Both burglary and theft went down during the same period last year, with 20 cases of burglary in January and 11 in February and 15 cases of theft in January and 10 in February of 2012.

As for the major crimes for February 2013, the Cayo Police Formation statistics show that 3 cases of attempted murder were at trial. Also for last month, 5 cases of burglary were under investigation and 2 were on trial while 5 cases of theft were under investigation and 4 were on trial during this same time.

Despite the relatively low crime rates in the San Ignacio Area, the Police continue to face challenges. The number of prank calls to San Ignacio Police between January 16th and February 16th were 439 in total, with an ‘avalanche’ of 57 calls on January 26th of this year alone.

The People’s Coalition of Cayo believes that these prank calls are done with intention to have directed results. In a communication to Smart Belize on March 7th, 2013, asking for “assistance in blocking *27”, the PCC explains that these prank calls act as decoys, and among other things, “…to move the police away from areas of illegal traffic such as contraband, smuggling of drugs, firearm, human body parts; sex slavery, crimes in progress…”

But an employee from SMART has explained to The Guardian that feature ‘*27’ gives the ability for their customers to have private numbers, “…because they [customers] don’t want anybody to see their numbers.”

However, the problem arises when San Ignacio Police or 911 operators receive these calls and are unable to trace them. The PCC further reasons with both Smart and The Belize Telemedia:“The duty of the police is to courteously answer all calls, irrespective of whether or not they are deemed pranks, and to respond by officers on patrol. It only makes sense that the Police are able to ID callers in cases of crimes in progress, emergencies and pranksters…”

A member of the PCC, who has sought to lobby the Communication Companies to remove ‘The Block Caller ID’ feature further explains, “If a person can barely reach a phone to call 911 in an emergency, it just makes sense to be able to cross reference their address…”

Meanwhile, community organization continues to strengthen San Ignacio Police efforts to keep the crime rates down. Dr. Gregory Shropshire, who has already done much work to ensure that a forty-foot container, which had been donated by the United States Embassy and is adjacent to the San Ignacio Police Building is completed now reports that the container will soon begin to fulfill its forensic role. A final paint coating needs to be done to the evidence room, faulty ballast for two light fixtures replaced and the floor prepared for vinyl tiles. Shropshire estimates that some one thousand dollars is now needed for the container to be readied as a modern evidence room. The People’s Coalition of Cayo Bank Account at the Belize Bank is number 650-1-1-21179.

“The container is a prototype that all the Districts are looking at to implement…”, reports Shrophsire.

With the container fully operational, San Ignacio Police will have more space to perform other functions. The police will also be able to utilize modern forensic tools in a more spacious and secure area.