Editorial — 16 November 2012

The military is trained to kill. They have to be, we suppose. Warfare is ferocious and unforgiving – the enemy is aiming always to kill you. But as far as we know, the police are not so trained. They are supposed to keep the peace. They are supposed to protect and to serve the public.

Don’t get us wrong. There are some commendable police officers, who are respected and embraced by the communities they serve. Their names never come up in any controversy, and they never shoot, or maim, or kill anyone.

Sergeant Paulino Reyes doesn’t appear to be cut from the same cloth of those aforementioned cops. He seems to be of a military mindset.

The sensational shooting death a couple years ago of Police Corporal Gavin Sanchez at the hands of the said Sergeant Reyes made a lot of people angry. An autopsy subsequently revealed that Reyes emptied not one, not two, not three, but nine bullets into his fellow officer. The public was outraged. Some good and courageous members of the Police Department were up in arms. Reyes was never criminally charged: he claimed self-defense. In the Southside of Belize City, the incident touched a nerve. Gavin Sanchez’s young wife was a popular hairdresser. And she was pregnant.

Still, nothing happened. The Police top brass did what people in high places, when faced with rogue elements in their midst, tend to do. They transferred the problem. The man Sergeant Reyes showed up in another community, in another district.

Now Reyes is in the news again. It is as if trouble follows him. Luckily for Donatilo Canales, a 53-year-old resident of Valley of Peace village who allegedly got into an altercation with Reyes on Monday, he was not more severely injured.

We say that because, even though the Police press release issued on Tuesday of this week gave the impression that Canales was only shot once in the left leg after he allegedly punched Reyes on the jaw, that release went on to say that, “Since the gun got jammed, he (Reyes) knocked Canales on the head, eventually subduing him.”

It makes you wonder what if the gun had not jammed. Just what if? Still, according to his daughter on a television newscast Wednesday night, Canales is hospitalized at the KHMH with gunshot wounds to both his legs.

If you listen to Police’s version of the aforementioned incidents, you would think Sergeant Reyes is an innocent. Trouble only seeks him out. Assailants are always charging after him, and he always has to use his government-issued firearm to defend himself. We weren’t there in San Pedro when he shot Gavin Sanchez 9 times and killed him. And we weren’t there when he shot Donatilo Canales, once or twice in Valley of Peace. So, we can’t say with certainty what happened.

But what we can say is that wherever Sergeant Reyes goes, trouble – sometimes potentially deadly trouble – seems to follow him. It would appear to us that Reyes is more of a danger to the communities he has sworn to serve and protect. In that case, he needs to be removed from the streets. And he needs to be properly and fully investigated. Straight up!

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