BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 19, 2021– A letter from the Belize Police Association to the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Kareem Musa, was leaked to the media early today. The letter, which was sent both to the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, and Minister Musa, stated that after countrywide consultations with police officers, the association found that the predominant sentiment of officers is that a salary cut would place “grave financial strain” on them.
The letter is dated March 15, 2021, and was sent by the Central Board of the Belize Police Association. The letter also mentioned that the salary cuts may also cause police officers to be hesitant in the performance of their duties and may even cause some to resort to illicit and unethical behavior within the ranks of the department.
The association is fearful that the salary cut will tip the financial scale of police officers, many of whom have fixed commitments to lending institutions and are many times left without funds to cover family expenses such as the purchase of groceries, medication, and other essentials.
The release stated that, on average, police officers make around $2,000 monthly, and many have to work added hours on ‘Special Duty” in order to make ends meet each month. A 10% salary cut would result in an average of $200 being sliced off police officers’ salaries.
“A three-year 10% salary cut and hold on increments may promote hesitancy amongst police officers when performing their duties. It is a very difficult task for managers and supervisors to keep police officers motivated, and it will be even harder to motivate police officers to perform their duties at an exemplary level if their salaries are cut,” the release stated.
It added that the main reward police looked forward to each year was the increment that is tacked on to their salary. The release noted that if this is paused for three years as scheduled, it will cause further dissatisfaction within the ranks of the police, causing a decline in the performance of their duties.
“A three (3) year 10% salary cut and hold on increments may cause police officers to resort to illicit and unethical behaviors. The board is not being pessimistic but it is the realm of reality. This will put the Belize Police Department in disrepute and may deteriorate the relationship shared between the department and the public,” stated the letter.
The letter further posited that the police officers do not deserve salary cuts, since they work overtime and even on holidays without receiving extra compensation.
The letter also stated that the police officers who are members of the association, understand the dire financial position the government is currently in, and have quietly accepted the increment freeze for the period 2019-2020.
“We believe that the proposed three (3) years 10% salary cut and hold on increments is not the only solution and it should be the last option,” the letter stated.
The association says the Government must first stop the abuse of government vehicles after working hours and reduce extravagant Ministry spending before it looks at cutting the salaries of officers.
The letter goes on to say, “If the proposed three (3) years 10% salary cut and hold on increments is unavoidable then the board is willing to meet with you and discuss alternative solutions to aid police officers to cope with their financial strains.”