Olive branch withdrawn: Gang Suppression Unit Unleashed in Belize City Print E-mail
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Written by By Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 21 July 2016 00:00

gsu.jpg - 123.33 KbThe Gang Suppression Unit is now like that infamous bat vigilante from Gotham. They are not the heroes we want right now, but after all the good intention initiatives of ACP Chester Williams have failed to soften the hearts of the Belize City criminal minds, the GSU may be the heroes this city deserves. There have been 17 murders in Belize City since April and 17 non-fatal shooting incidents over that same span. The city is hot! The Ministry of National Security has been left with no choice. On Monday, July 18, the underground holding facility was opened and Belize’s most highly trained, highly paid and highly feared crime fighting unit was unleashed on the blood thirsty gangsters of Belize City.

“The mandate of the Gang Suppression Unit has been renewed,” says Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security, “to deal firmly and swiftly with gang leaders and members to bring them to justice, remove them from our neighbourhoods and communities and place them in jail and from being able to influence an entice our youth into a life of crime.”

The message that is likely being sent with this move echoes the worrying statement made by ACP Williams on July 7. The deployment of the hard charging unit means the olive branch has been withdrawn for this current crop of delinquents. Williams said on July 7, “The current generation that is out there giving trouble, they have sentence themselves to death. They are like purging themselves and I think that as a society we have done them an injustice, we have lost them. It’s just a matter of time and one of the only ways we could stop this is to see how we can begin to work on the other generation coming up, so that they do not fall the way how the current generation has gone.”

The statistics show that gang recruitment has been very successful in the last three years. According to Minister Saldivar, “Worth of note is the alarming trend that shows an increase in gang membership from just under 800 in 2013 to over 1,000 in 2016. When we add this to the fact that since 2013 over 115 gang members have been murdered it suggest that for every gang member killed, three new members are recruited most of whom come from our vulnerable Belize City youth population.”

Based on this worrysome trend, saving the next generation means taking initiatives that will have immediate impact on gang recruitment. Minister Saldivar plans to deploy additional police booths on the ground in Southside Belize City. “We intend with immediate effect to increase the number of police officers in the known gang ridden areas of Belize City. This will be done through the redeployment of officers from other areas in the first instance and then through the assignment of new officers from the recruit squad set to pass out in October.” The officers will be placed in strategic locations, hotspots, in order to deter criminal activities and hinder movement. There will be additional stop and searches and surveillance in gang infested neighbourhoods. Most controversially, there will be renewed emphasis on quality of life crimes such as loitering and public drinking.

For a long term solution to gang violence, Cabinet has commissioned Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber to form a team that will come up with a comprehensive response.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:14

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