ORANGE WALK, Tues. July 13, 2021– Today, the Belize Police Department launched a countrywide tour to reach out to the rank and file members of the department across the nation. The Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Hon. Kareem Musa, along with the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, and the CEO in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Kevin Arthurs, will be participating in the tour, and according to Hon. Musa, who was in Orange Walk (the first district to be visited), this is the first outreach to police officers to take place under the new PUP administration. He explained that the main purpose of the outreach is to pinpoint issues of concern and ultimately improve the welfare of police officers countrywide.
“We will be touring the country — a long overdue tour, since we took over the administration November 11 of 2020. This is a very important, critical exercise of reaching out to the rank and file of the Police Department. As you know, police officers are human beings just like you and I. They have families, they have children, they have frustrations, issues that they want to ventilate, and they want to see how it is that we as a Ministry can make it more functional, more comfortable, certainly for them. They are front-liners,” Hon. Musa said.
Musa also noted that police officers have been going above and beyond the call of duty since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and that, in light of the extra burden they are shouldering, it is important for the Ministry to find out how it can improve the welfare of these officers.
“So that is what we had this meeting for, and we are going to go across the country. The next stop this afternoon is Corozal, and then on Wednesday we go to Caye Caulker and San Pedro. Thursday we move to the south of the country, and then next week we will go to the west and finally end off in Belize City,” Musa said.
As mentioned, the national tour started off in Orange Walk Town, an area that was initially the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic and that continued to be a hotspot for a considerable length of time. Almost 80% of police officers in the district have received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Minister Musa said.
“I am very happy to report that in Orange Walk Town, the formation that we have here of about 90 officers, almost 80% of them are vaccinated. I was actually very overwhelmed and floored by that number when we asked how many of them have been vaccinated, and what that goes to prove is that the Police Department has been working hand in hand with the Ministry of Health, not just in the vaccination efforts, but in other efforts as well. As you know, the Ministry of Health is likewise tasked to have these protocols enforced, and so it’s a union between the Police Department and the Ministry of Health that is absolutely critical,” Musa said.
He stated that there are only about 10 officers in that formation who need to be vaccinated, so the police formation in that area is the most vaccinated group of police officers in the country.
“I have informed the rank and file that they are leading the country, because the north of the country has been doing exceptionally well in fighting crime. We are talking Orange Walk, Corozal, the islands — they have been doing exceptionally well, so they are leading the country in the charge in fighting crime, and they are also in Orange Walk leading the percentage of police officers that are actually vaccinated,” he said.
Minister Musa said that by August 1 the Police Department is hoping to have at least 50% of its officers vaccinated.