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BPD awards 3 officers with Women Police of the Year

HighlightsBPD awards 3 officers with Women Police of the Year

Photo: (l-r) Myrna Pena, Carmella Cacho, and Shanice Bevans; BPD Female Police of the Year Award Ceremony

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 20, 2024

In honor of Women’s Month, today in Belize City, the Belize Police Department (BPD) held a Female Police of the Year Award ceremony honoring 3 female officers from different regions of the country for their outstanding commitment to duty, dedication to service, and engaging youths in the community with the department.

The awardees at the event were Carmella Cacho from the Southern Regional Division, Shanice Bevans from the Eastern Regional Division, and Myrna Pena from the Northern Regional Division. Each officer was selected via nomination from their regional office, and accompanied to the ceremony by their respective commander.

“The event is very important for us as police officers, and for me as a Commissioner of Police to highlight to the public that, while many may see the police department as a man’s world, that it is no longer that. We have come a very long way in terms of making sure that we do recognize the hard work and importance that women play in line enforcement,” shared Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams.

As it is, women possess high ranks within the department, including Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police. By no means then, William believes, should women be prohibited from receiving equal opportunities for the same amount of dedication put into their work.

“It’s been a great journey being a police officer. I’ve always wanted to work in my community and serve the people of Belize, so I find that being a police officer is rewarding, and it is allowing me to accomplish the goal that I have set for myself,” expressed award recipient Carmella Cacho.

Over the years, women in the department were stifled from opportunities, and appointed mainly to take up secretarial or domestic work. However, things in the Police Department have drastically changed.

But despite the view of equal opportunities, there are certain tasks that women are still excluded from, including jungle patrol and border patrol.

“There may be some critics who may say that, you know, women speak of equality, but there are still some tasks that they cannot perform. That does not mean that because a woman cannot go to the jungle, means that there’s not equality. There are still many other tasks that they can perform. And you’ll find that sometimes you do put women to do a certain task, and they do better than the men,” Williams added.

Notably, there was no representation from the West due to their lack of response to the event coordinator.

BDF and Coast Guard also honored women officers

Simultaneously, the Belize Defence Force (BDF) at Price Barracks, Ladyville, held a ceremony dedicated to “Women, Peace, and Security”, under the theme “Inspiring Inclusion.”

The event aimed at promoting gender equality, support, and recognition for women in the force.

According to the BDF’s Commander, Brigadier General Azariel Loria, the symposium, now in its second year, is a strategic effort to communicate this vision to all ranks within the BDF, reinforcing the directive from the Prime Minister’s office to implement policies that promote gender equality.

Notable women of recognition during the ceremony included the first-ever female Lieutenant Colonel, Lydia Guerra, the Force Medical Officer — the first to hold such a high rank within the BDF.

Starting her career as an officer cadet, Guerra’s journey to becoming the Force Medical Officer was marked by challenges and triumphs, including the struggle for respect and equality faced by women in the military.

In other instances, some female soldiers even encountered sexual assault. However, policies such as the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) policy have been put in place to not only address these reports, but to help prevent them.

The event was also attended by selected women of the Coast Guard who were also honored.

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