BELIZE CITY, Tues. Sept. 19, 2017–In our previous edition of the Amandala, we indicated that a legal battle between two senior officers was looming over the Belize Police Department.
In an interview with the press on Monday, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Noel Leal, indicated that he had spoken to both Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Chester Williams and his subordinate, Senior Superintendent, Marco Vidal, regarding the impending legal battle.
According to Leal, he and the Police CEO, George Lovell, are of the view that both officers should try and keep their “issues” out of the public eye.
“I personally have spoken to both officers and I’ve held discussions with the CEO, Mr. Lovell, at the Ministry of Home Affairs, and we are both of the opinion that they should desist and that they should discontinue that type of activity in public,” said Leal.
He added, “…they do have their rights and they have concerns, but we have asked them, if possible, not to be having this issue on social media or in public. So whatever they want to do, if they feel they must do, then let that be from them through their attorneys, but let it not be public. This is not a matter for public consumption.”
According to Leal, the senior officers might face disciplinary measures if the matter isn’t kept out of public view.
“We have spoken to both of them, and warned them that we do have a disciplinary body, which is the Security Services Commission, which can address these matters. If we believe it is necessary, we’ll build a case and we’ll proceed that way if they do not discontinue,” said Leal.
According to the Deputy Commissioner, he has no problem with either officer’s policing strategies.
Last Friday, ACP Williams contracted the legal services of Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck, who wrote Sr. Supt. Vidal, concerning a possible lawsuit.
In the letter, Marshalleck demanded that Vidal apologize on live television, indicate in writing that he would not repeat the allegations, and that he pay Williams’ legal costs and pay for damages to his reputation. Vidal was given ten days to respond to that letter.
In an interview with the media last week, Vidal had hinted that Williams had accommodated street thugs during his tenure in Belize City.
One journalist had asked him, “Are you alluding to the widely-held perception that certain groups were allowed to thrive in the marijuana trade, while others were not allowed to thrive on that trade under the previous commander?”
He responded, “Exactly, and obviously, you have your information from that world.”
The journalist responded, “I said it was a perception.”
Vidal answered, “I don’t know if it was a perception. I’m sure you have your sources there and you would know that there was some perception, if you may, that there were some persons allowed to do some things and others not allowed to do the same thing. My position is and my strategy is that it is across the board. You commit an offense, and you will face the consequences for that offense.”
Following that interview, Williams posted to Facebook, refuting those allegations.
Since his return from law school in 2015, Williams had served as the Commander of Belize City’s Southside. However, with his promotion to the head of the Police Professional and Standards Branch, he was succeeded this year by Vidal, who had previously served as the Commander of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU).