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Traffic officers in new Enforcement Department granted the power to arrest

GeneralTraffic officers in new Enforcement Department granted the power to arrest

Starting this month, residents of Belize City can expect to see greater enforcement of traffic laws, with the creation of a new Enforcement Department and the issuance of tickets for parking meter violations.

by Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Aug. 2, 2022 The Belize City Council will begin to increase the enforcement of traffic laws this month with the establishment of a new Enforcement Department, created through the merging of the Traffic Department and the Special Constables Unit. As a part of the merger, 43 traffic wardens were sworn in as Special Constables and equipped with the power

to make arrests this past Friday. According to Belize City mayor Bernard Wagner, the goal of the merger is to strengthen the traffic department’s enforcement team and ensure that there is a unit that can effectively respond to traffic infractions.

“Every day we see the infractions. Some of them are minor infractions. Some of them are larger infractions, but clearly, we need to change the culture in the city with respect to all types of infractions. The driving of vehicles on the sidewalks, the traffic violations, the running of the red lights, the buses in the evening time, those need to be curbed—and the only way we could curb them is to have a more effective and efficient group that now has the power to arrest,” said Mayor Wagner to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony held at the House of Culture.

During his speech at the ceremony, the Mayor noted that many traffic officers have complained that residents often show them no respect. The launch of the new department, he added, may very well be one of the most important initiatives taken on by the Council. He

told the media that, now, those officers, and the entire department, are in a much better position.

“Previously, we had traffic officers who didn’t have that power to arrest. All they had was the ticket. That clearly nuh mi di work, and so we felt that by giving them now that teeth of the power of arrest we are in a much better position,” he said.

The 43 new Special Constables were trained by Senior Superintendent Leslie Wade, the Director of Training at the Police Training Academy in Belmopan. Their training sessions covered a broad range of topics, including constitutional rights, road traffic law, powers and methods of arrest, report writing, and intoxicating liquor license.

Officers who were already part of the former Special Constables Unit also took the training which, according to the Belize City Council, served as a refresher course.

The new Enforcement Department features four units: the Traffic Unit, the Internal Security and Discipline Unit, the Trade and Liquor License Unit, and the Parking Meters Unit. Those officers belonging to the Parking Meters Unit are expected to be hard at work as early as the first week of August, since the issuance of tickets for parking meter violations commenced on Monday, August 1.

In a public notice released last week, the City Council urged residents to continue familiarizing themselves with the parking meters as the pilot project period progresses. According to Mayor Wagner, the first quarter of the one- year-long project has been completed, and, so far, residents of the city are slowly adapting.

“We’ve received some of the data. We have over 700 hours of usage on the Albert Street side and about half on Princess Margaret by the DIGI Park side. But we’re very comfortable with the usage,” he said.

The Mayor also noted that the council plans on making some adjustments, including creating a “stop zone” for customers of the vendors located inside the DIGI Park.

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