Features — 24 December 2015 — by Johnelle McKenzie
Police Department is over 2,000 strong

BELMOPAN, Fri. Dec. 18, 2015–The pass-out of Squad 92, after three months of training, brings the total number of officers in Belize’s police force to 2,067, John Saldivar, Minister of National Security, said today at the National Police Training Academy in Belmopan.

A hundred and sixty-seven recruits graduated today, Friday, and were joined by family and friends who came to celebrate with them and wish them well on reaching this milestone in their lives.

“The success of our law enforcement system depends on the willingness of all to participate and contribute to public safety”, Saldivar said. He recalled a few years ago that Belize was listed as one of the countries in the world with the highest homicide rate per thousand of the population, and as a result, citizens were losing confidence in the Police Department.

Saldivar pointed out, “A police precinct concept that was introduced in 2013 has proven to be highly effective and was further advanced with the division of Eastern Division into three precincts, with senior officers in command.”

Also, he said, the infusions of community-oriented policing resulted in more focus on the elements of the population responsible for crime and have brought the police closer to the community.

JM-Police-Graduation

The new police officers will be given their first assignments on Monday, and their entry into the police force comes at a time when the department is on high alert in this Christmas season.

Henry Lopez, the Most Outstanding Recruit (scoring the highest in the written examination, and being named the most consistent and the recipient of the Baton of Honor), addressed those in attendance and gave a summary of their three months of training. In doing so, he pointed out that they had to endure 17-hour-days of rigorous training in order to get them in shape mentally and physically, to endure the work of a police officer.

This regime was well-structured, since it included mental training which consisted of classroom sessions, including lessons in subjects such as traffic law, criminal law, and general police duties, Lopez said.

They were also given physical training, basic first aid training, and training in firing a 9mm firearm, and they attended regular church services to complete the transformation, Lopez said.

Lopez ended by saying that he is proud to stand up before the audience, along with his colleagues, as “full-fledged police officers” who possess an array of knowledge that they are ready to put to use in the service of their country.

Other recruits who were recognized for their achievements were Dean Barrera, first in first aid; Cynthia Turner, first in human rights; Christian Cawich, first in physical training; Eleanor Ayala, first in shooting qualifications; Marina Dawson, second in written examinations, and Allan Domingo, who received the Commandant’s prize.

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