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Gang Truce Update: Lasting Peace Not That Simple
Wed, April 19, 2017

Of course, it is only the second major violent crime in the City since last week's peace march by the gangs.

It's all because of Eastern Division South's push toward a gang truce, and we told you last night there was a follow-up mediation session yesterday. That ended with the police and the gang members sharing a meal last night.

Today, we asked Assistant Police Commissioner Chester Williams, who is leading the effort, to discuss the continuation of this cooling off period, and possibly even a truce between all the city's gangs. He told us that it is a work in progress with some tricky aspects that they need to navigate around:

ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South
"We also had the peace walk last week Wednesday with the different elements from across Southside Belize City and there was a pact made between the different groups that they will do their best to ensure that the Easter Holiday was peaceful and so we are grateful to the fact that yes they have kept their end of the bargain and we met again yesterday with them just to ensure that we are on the right foot to see how we can take the peace further. We want to see how we can develop or arrive at a truce between the different gangs and hopefully that will bring an end to some of the heinous crimes we are seeing on our streets of Belize City."

Daniel Ortiz
"How close are you to that truce sir? What are some of the elements or some of the barriers you'd be able to discuss with us why these different factions may be reluctant to institute a permanent or a long lasting seize fire?"

ACP Chester Williams
"Well like I have said before, people are hurt, people are grieving and when you are dealing with people like that it is always difficult but it is an ongoing effort that we must sustain to be able to see how we can maintain peace and how we can direct them or convince them towards arriving at a truce between them. We know that it will be difficult but we do not think it is something that is unachievable."

Daniel Ortiz
"So there was some sort of social event between the police and the different elements. How accurate is that to call it a dinner?"

ACP Chester Williams
"I will not say much where that is concerned; I will just say that we had a meeting yesterday, myself, Ms. Finnegan and Jawi. If you would recall last week after the peace walk, we had said that we would have reconvened on Tuesday which was yesterday to see how we can go further with what we want to do and that was us meeting our promise to meet yesterday so we had that meeting with the guys and the meeting lasted an extended period of time and Ms. Finnegan decided that she will providing supper for them. It was not as people may want to put it but at the end of the day we know that they are people out there who do not want to see peace within the city but as a police department and Ms. Finnegan the person she is and Jawi, we are adamant to see that the level of crime go down within our city."

Daniel Ortiz
"Is it ever a concern of yours while discussing these things or meeting regularly with the different factions that the suggestion will be the police or maybe Chester is getting too chummy with the gangs?"

ACP Chester Williams
"I don't know if you read an article written by Dr. Gale in the Jamaican Gleaner where he discussed the whole issue of policing and gangs. This is not about getting chummy with no gangs; I will tell you no one is tougher on the gangs than I am because when they slip, we are out there after them. We do weekly operations, three times a week going after them, searching their homes and so forth. The important thing is that while we interact or we engage them, we do so with a certain degree of humanity and that is what really counts for them. These gentlemen don't have an issue with the police going to their homes and search, they have an issue with when police go to their home and police are behaving abusive."

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