A News Analysis- BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 2, 2019– Belize is a violent country. There is official violence all around: sometimes it is manifested in the form of political corruption—the continuing plundering of the country’s resources; and sometimes it is manifested in the physical violence that is meted out to ordinary citizens from elements in law enforcement.
The first day of the New Year was particularly bloody, with five murders being recorded in Belize before the first day of the year was over. Then, to add more gloom to the violent New Year’s reality, two police officers on San Pedro went rogue New Year’s night. The officers might have forgotten that we are living in a social-media-dominated society and most people carry phones with video cameras.
So, notwithstanding the crowd of people standing around, the two police officers brought shame to the uniforms they were wearing and consequently illustrated for the whole world to see that there are elements in the Belize Police Department whose behavior is extreme.
The two policemen on San Pedro showed wanton disregard for the lives of the men they proceeded to beat, as well as for other members of the public who were seen being menaced by one of the officers with his loaded police-issued gun.
Fortunately, someone videoed the beat-down for a few seconds and that video of naked police brutality went viral.
Hours after the incident, at a police press briefing, Acting Commissioner of Police (ACP), Chester Williams, was less than forthcoming when he was asked to provide the names of the two officers.
Williams told reporters that police must first conduct their investigation, before the names of the officers are released.
Now, here are two police officers criminally assaulting a citizen and the video of them doing that is being widely circulated in social media, yet the Acting Commissioner of Police refused to provide their names to the media. What is there to hide? How would releasing their names at the press briefing affect the police’s investigation?
The ACP even snapped at one member of the media who brought up a question about some members of the security forces whose release from a murder charge were questionable, from a strictly legal standpoint. ACP Williams informed that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has the file and is dealing with the matter.
By afternoon, however, the police issued a brief press release, naming the two officers and informing the country that they have been suspended from duty for one week.
In the press release, the rogue officers on San Pedro were identified as PC #1919 Samir Medina and PC # 2287 Tyrell Rowley. They will both be investigated criminally and internally, the police release said.
The Police Department should do the right thing and terminate their services, the Opposition, People’s United Party, said in a press release today.
The Police Department needs to send a clear message that the rights of citizens should not be trampled upon, and officers who operate outside the law will be held accountable by the law.
The two men that police beat up did not pose any threat to the officers. The men were already on the ground, yet the officers saw it necessary to brutalize them, kicking them as if they were mere objects and not human beings.