Today officers from the Belize Police Department and the San Salvador Police Department gathered to take part in the GREAT - that is the Gang Resistance Education and Training program. As the name suggests, the training program gives officers the tools to fight gang violence by by involving the community in their policing efforts. We spoke to Inspector Edward Carcamo, the officer in charge of community policing for the Eastern Division about the workshop...
Insp. Edward Carcamo - OIC, Community Policing, Eastern Division
"What is happening today or for the rest of this week and next week is that we have officers that are participating in the GREAT training, the gang resistance education and training program. In Belize we have the program started out from within 2009 when we started the first set of training and it was done in Central America in San Salvador and over the years up to now we have 180 police officers that have been trained within the program here in Belize. Throughout this training we have a total of 24 officers from Belize that is participating. This is the first time though that we have international participants with the training so if you notice that we have 15 members from San Salvador here at the training with us and they will be participating until the training is over which should complete Thursday."
"First of all the GREAT training is a very intensive training and it is a training that allows law enforcement officers to go into classrooms and into communities to facilitate program to build life skills. The training also assist the officers in their presentation skills so before they go into what the training is, we have educators that come in and facilitate them or let them understand that how to change from being a police officer when you go into the classroom, how you project yourself. The training which is very intensive as I said is not just coming in and sit down, these officers will be test over the period of time to see if they have reached the level that they are supposed to reach before they are certified to go into classrooms to facilitate these kind of life skills trainings."
"A lot of time when you talk about gang resistance people will go into the classroom and tell the children this is a gang and this is what gang do and when you look at it these things develop their minds or open their minds more as to what is happening but we look at how to resist, we look at how that resiliency, resistance - we teach them about empathy, about what is going on and how to love their community and by developing their community how they will have a better appreciation of their country, their family on a whole."
The officers will spend the rest of the week in the workshop.