by Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 25, 2023
On Wednesday, January 25, William Dawson, the Chairman of the Leadership Intervention Unit (LIU), passed away after battling with kidney disease for a short period.
Dawson wore many hats, but had one title that made him prominently known in the public domain—that of chairman of the LIU, a position that involved coordinating various programs aimed at reducing gang violence in the city. But, by all accounts, that effort was more than a professional undertaking for Dawson. It was a mission that was close to his heart—a passion, and a purpose. Dawson served as a mentor and motivational speaker to at-risk youths in various communities—crossing boundaries between various gang zones to speak to members of rivaling gangs on their respective turfs with equal affection and concern.
Before he was known for his public work, his career with youths began in the classroom as a teacher at Ladyville Technical High School, where he taught for 12 years. From there, he would take up the mantle of Director at the Wagner’s Youth Facility, where he engaged in an effort to teach and rehabilitate troubled youth.
And up to his passing, he was the Chairman of the LIU, an initiative under the Ministry of Home Affairs to combat gang violence in the city, particularly on the Southside, through mediation and other methods aimed at healing and reconciliation.
When Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Kareem Musa, spoke to the media about Dawson’s passing, he noted that Dawson was a one-of-a-kind person.
“Mr. Dawson was truly one of a kind. It has taken him many years to build the type of reputation and credibility that he had on the streets of Belize City, in particular the kind of trust that people have in him, and that is truly owing that he was a real and genuine person. Unlike any other that I ever met,” said Hon. Musa.
He went on to remark, “You can’t teach that kind of compassion and that kind of love. That’s something that cannot be taught. Perhaps it is owing to the life that he lived, growing up and going through his own challenges and his own difficult times that has made him become the man that he was. While yes, there are a lot of individuals out there, a lot of good, social workers working in their communities, I really do not have another William Dawson.”
While there were no plans to designate a successor to Dawson prior to his passing, Musa expressed interest in having Deputy Commissioner of Police, Dr. Richard Rosado, hold over for a short period until there is a replacement.
“While it is that we are not likely to find an equal replacement, perhaps we can find two or three individuals that can multi-task, make themselves available and be efficient the way Mr. Dawson did. But, certainly, we cannot let the legacy and vision of Mr. Dawson pass. That is something that we owe to him to honor him and continue with the path that he has led us on, because he is not just a colleague and a brother. He is our leader,” said Musa.
Praises were also sung by Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, who described Dawson as a lion and a tiger.
“As I described him on social media, he is like a lion. You know in the jungle the lion is looked upon as the king, but he has the tendency of a tiger. The tendency of a tiger is that he’s an aggressive hunter, he’s strong, and I used those two cats to describe how I could remember William,” said Commissioner Williams.
Dawson had worked with the Ministry of Home Affairs on a multi-sectoral strategy for curbing crime and gang violence that is soon to be implemented.
Dawson leaves behind a wife and two children.
He was 43.