BELIZE-Government announces new security measures


The Belize government has announced a number of initiatives aimed at dealing with the crime situation in the country.

A statement issued by the National Security Council of Belize (NSC), following a meeting that was chaired by Prime Minister Dean Barrow, noted the discussions were related to the crisis arising out of the recent murder of a United States medical practitioner, Dr. Gary Swank, and his tour guide, Mario Graniel over the last weekend, in San Pedro.

The police said that the men were fishing, a mile west of San Pedro Town when a gunman in a separate boat opened fire on them. Graniel was found dead behind the steering wheel of his boat while Dr. Swank was found floating in the lagoon.

“The NSC recorded its grave concern over the tragic development and its implications particularly for the tourism industry in Ambergris Caye and nationally. The NSC also recorded its deep sympathy for the family of the deceased.

“It also noted that there was no targeting of the tourist and that his murder was made even more tragic by the fact that he was an innocent victim of a dispute between his tour guide and the murderer. Those very circumstances underscore the critical need for our authorities to do better at increasing security both for our citizens and our visitors,” the statement said.

It said as a result with immediate effect, a new special police personnel will be hired to boost law enforcement numbers in San Pedro and that additional law enforcement equipment will be allocated to improve police response time.

The authorities also announced that a new permanent checkpoints will be placed in strategic locations on Ambergris Caye, including the reopening of the Tres Cocos police booth and that police cameras will be mounted at hot spots and areas of particular security concern.

The Belize Coast Guard will now play an integral role in ensuring security at sea and in the lagoon at Ambergris Caye, the statement said.

The government said that it is assuring “a full court press is being mounted to deal with citizen security issues, and that in this regard, the processing of a new police intake of over 170 recruits will begin within the next two weeks.

Police Commissioner Chester Williams said that the police are getting assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

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