Wednesday, May 26, 2010


By Ray Auxillou/ Cayo District

This Chamber of Commerce of the Port of Belize City television programme was going into the CROOKS POLICE REPORT and the implementation of things, from a business perspective.
The impetus for the discussion was the terrible events of civil war between entrenched gangs over in a neighboring country of CARICOM, in Kingston, Jamaica. The port city is being seen as going down the same path.
The idea is that we must do something, but what? Violence is plaguing many countries around the world. Not just the port city of Belize, a town of 80,000 people and the largest town in the agrarian nation of Belize.
One panelist said something that hit the nail on the head from my viewpoint. The whole problem is ‘social and cultural’ and is in effect a community problem. Dealing with budgeting problems of the National political police organization is not going to resolve the issues, in my opinion.
I’m reminded of the interview in the National Geographic early this year done in SINGAPORE. The interviewer asked a Singaporean, a metropolis of 4.5 million people in an island city/country/state how they could have such law and order, with such few police. The answer was that, the police were between the ears of citizens. Street police were not needed.
Which comes back to another remark from a panelist on the Belize Business Perspectives tv program. The problem is SOCIAL & CULTURAL. The problem as the Chamber discussion pointed out, was that the LAWS of BELIZE were not being enforced strictly and impartially. Blame was put on the two party political – WINNER TAKE ALL – political system of government. Another panelist said; we need to change the political system and perhaps it is time for PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION ?
First off, I’m not sure the rest of the country has the same problems as the port of Belize City. If we could change the social, community and cultural dynamics of the port town, the largest and most criminal and violent in the whole country, the ripple effect would probably change any trouble hotspots in village communities and small towns elsewhere.
Lets get to specifics! Who is in charge of the port town? Is it the Belize City Council, or is it the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT? I believe the responsibility is that of the Belize City Council. You cannot have too many chiefs, the Indians get confused. If they, the Belize City Council are short of money, perhaps they could get subsidies, or specific GRANTS from the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT. The panelists on the Business Perspectives said it rightly, the problem directly is social and cultural and they need DISCIPLINE and CIVILIZING in the port town of Belize City.
We look to SINGAPORE for that lesson, as they have had decades to develop social responsibility and now need very few police. They must be doing something right?
Start with some small steps. The port city has no police of it’s own. Police are expensive anyway. They do have City traffic wardens though. Hire more of them and start seizing, and ticketing bicycles that go the wrong way on ONE WAY streets and are without a lamp, fenders, or other necessary equipment. Sell the bicycles at auction and offset the salary costs of the traffic wardens. You start learning discipline this way. In the small things. Organize a special unit with radios to call the police to arrest and ticket anybody who litters? $200 fine is the first cost in Singapore. More offenses are given with supervised community service picking up litter. The fines can pay for the Litter wardens. Discipline again is a civilizing influence. You could rotate a 15 person unit around the port city as a group, in surprise positioning.
There was a case on television the same night, that showed the influence of politics on liquor licensing. Even the PRIME MINISTER blamed a store who retailed liquor, for the behavior of citizens with liquor when they left the store onto the public street. The retail owner explained, once they go out the door, he cannot do anything, as it is a public street. The Cabinet Minister of the POLICE lives across from the store and is totally wrong and so is the Prime Minister when he supports the taking away of the liquor license. Pure criminal exploitation of political power. Perdomo the Minister should be using his police, or the CITY COUNCIL should be calling the police to arrest such persons, who are peeing on his fence and drinking publicly. This is a City law enforcement problem. Start developing a CHAIN OF COMMAND and RESPONSIBILITY. My own feeling is the responsibility is that of the Belize City Council.
The panelists on the Business Perspectives program said it right. Enforce ALL THE LAWS equitably and always. Political preference, by bribery, influence and so forth has to change. Probably PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION in national elections is part of the answer? Creating a culture, or social discipline, is about the same thing you do when children go to school, or young teenagers go through basic training in the Belize Defense Force, or Police Academy. You provide STRUCTURE, RULES OR LAWS and enforce them strictly, and outline the clear parameters of behavior and consequences. The civilian population of the port of Belize City is not a military, or school unit, but it worked the same way in SINGAPORE over the decades. It can be done cheaply in the port of Belize City, but you need STRUCTURE and DISCIPLINE. Right now the City Council is a divided fragmented bunch of quarreling competition, each with ego problems. They need a strong leader to pull the various city employees and departments together. Right now, the port Belize City Council is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Marijuana dealers are fined and caned with a bamboo. Traffickers of more serious drugs are sentenced to death. DISCIPLINE and CIVILIZING influences. Perhaps we too in Belize can become civilized?
If 4.5 million people in the city/state of SINGAPORE can establish a culture of discipline and policing between the ears of each citizen as a social responsibility, then so can Belizeans. Most of the young people in crime in the port town of Belize City, have had no family life, or discipline in their lives. They know not what is right or wrong as they find themselves passing into adulthood.
There are answers and they are not expensive as government institutions would have you believe. It is ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOR!

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