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Monday, December 6, 2021
Home General Police Association “lawyers up” against (SI) 74

Police Association “lawyers up” against (SI) 74

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Aug 11, 2021– Following the issuance of Statutory Instrument (SI) 74, which requires persons classified as frontline workers, including police officers, to be vaccinated or to be tested bi-weekly, there was reportedly an increase in vaccinations within the Police Department. However, a significant chunk of police officers remain unvaccinated, and it now appears that a number of officers have no current intentions of receiving the vaccine.

The Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, told local reporters that, to date, only one officer has been sent home from his station in Orange Walk, but recent reports are now indicating that those officers who are reporting for duty without presenting the results of a PCR or rapid test are now being asked to sign a letter agreeing to stay on the job despite being marked absent by their commanding officers.

The Police Association’s legal representative, Richard “Dickie” Bradley, has since written to the Minister responsible for Police, Hon. Kareem Musa, to request an intervention.

The August 6th letter states that the executive of the Police Association is asking for an extension to the grace period afforded to their members for vaccination, likely to give more of them an opportunity to get the jab. They are also asking for a meeting with the Ministry.
The vaccination rate of police officers across the country is, as just mentioned, rising steadily, with almost 80% of the officers in the Belize District having at least started the inoculation process. Commissioner Williams says, however, that some officers from that area are passionate anti-vaxxers. The department has thus been working with the Ministry to sensitize those officers to the facts about the Covid-19 virus and vaccines.

In an interview a few weeks ago, the Commissioner of Police had indicated to local media that his officers would be receiving testing free of charge, but this decision has since been reversed, according to Commissioner Williams. He said that after he had made those public statements about free testing, other public officers also called for free testing, which resulted in an untenable situation for the government. The decision was thus reversed and, as a result, police officers, like all other public servants, will have to pay between $100 and $150 for their bi-weekly test.

Commissioner Williams further stated that, contrary to the assertions made by the legal representative for the Police Association, the absence of 5 or 6 officers will not drastically affect the work of the department on the ground.

He added that while the department has not reached that stage as yet, if too many officers are unvaccinated and do not report to work, the Police Department will have to rely on the military’s BDF soldiers to bolster the manpower on the ground.

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