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250 students graduate from BPD’s PEACE program

Highlights250 students graduate from BPD’s PEACE program

Photo: ACP Howell Gillett, Commander of National Community Policing

by Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 8, 2024

The Positive Engagement and Civic Education (PEACE) program, which is run by the Belize Police Department (BPD), held a graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 7, at the Bliss Centre for Performing Arts that featured approximately 250 primary school students from 10 different schools in the Belize district.

The first-of-its-kind program was launched in November of last year, with its main objective to use law enforcement officers to tackle the issues that young children and teens face while growing up, and help to mold them into productive members of society.

“Our intention at the Belize Police Department is not to criminalize our young people. So, we’re doing this program, and it shows that collaboration is the answer to some of the social ills we have in the communities that we serve. We will say it is a complete success,” said ACP Howell Gillett, Commander of National Community Policing.

The PEACE pilot program was funded by the US Embassy, and the Chief of the International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Unit at the US Embassy, Heath Bailey told the media that the program’s success was geared to what the country needed.

“I think the reason why this program [was] effective and why the kids enjoy it so much is because it is built for Belize. There have been other programs that Belize has implemented before, anti-gang programs that have been more general; but the genius of this program is that the Belize curriculum developers were able to tailor it to the needs of the country,” he said.

ACP Gillett added that the program will expand to various parts of the country.

“Our officers are already trained. We have 33 officers who are trained, and 9 officers who are the supervisors for them and deliver the lectures. So, come September, we will go to the other districts, including the Belize district – we will do the other schools that we didn’t do – the community policing officers will tell us which schools need it the most, and those will be the schools that we go into to have this strategic intervention,” he said.

As mentioned above, the program was launched in November 2023 and completed in April this year, and saw participation from over 1,330 students. Graduation ceremonies will be done throughout the month for the other students.

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