Meeting the Police Commissioner over Community Safety on the Southside
by Oscar Mmbali
As Quakers, we believe in conversations, everyone speaks. Now, we are not here to tell you what you should do but to talk about how we can work together…” (Dale Graves)
A couple of weeks ago, the Community Safety Forum decided to reach out to the Police Commissioner to discuss how we can work together to improve community safety on the Southside of Belize City. This was a culmination of the first phase of Community Safety Forums that were held at Belize City Friends Center and at the Anglican Cathedral in Belize City.
Last week, we received an invitation to meet Police Commissioner, Allan Whyle at the Police Department in Belize City. The meeting was to be held on Wednesday 1st of November 2017 but was cancelled at the eleventh hour and rescheduled on Thursday 2nd of November 2017. On Thursday afternoon, representatives of the Community Safety Forum gathered at Raccoon Police Department to discuss with the police commissioner, the issues raised in the letter that had been sent to him.
In the meeting were the Police Commissioner, Colonel George Lovell from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs and Head of Criminal Investigation Branch Mr. Cowo. Discussions held included sharing the background of the Community Safety Forums, discussing the details of the letter sent to the Police commissioner, hearing from the Police commissioner, and Colonel Lovell about their experiences working on security related issues in Belize City.
Given time constrains and a long list of issues that had been raised, the meeting resolved to begin a collaboration between the Police Department and Community Organizations over community safety issues. The meeting identified, educating the public on interaction between the police and the community as the priority agenda. Collaboration on this issue marks the start of building partnerships between the Police Department, community organizations and the community around community safety initiatives.
The details of the priority agenda- to educate the public over interaction between the community and the police for example, the content, strategies, activities and mutual interests around these issues will be discussed soon. The Police Commissioner assigned Inspector Carcamo as the liaison between the Community Safety Forum and the Police Department. Inspector Carcamo will liaise with Candy Young, Principal of Belize Friends School regarding communications from the Police department. Candi and Inspector Carcamo will be coordinating communications between the Police department and Community Safety Forums. We are looking forward to host future Community Safety Forums that will focus on implementing this agenda and discussing other related matters.
While we were not able to discuss every detail to conclusion, there was a sense of mutual willingness to work together. This collaboration between the police and community organizations opens an opportunity to explore together issues related to community safety as well as other areas where we can work together towards community transformation. There is a genuine call to work together with other organizations, the Police and other government agencies to improve community safety and address issues that tear apart the social fabric of the society upon which community safety is built. Belize City Friends center has become that place in the community from which hope and transformation will spring forth.