Media and police reach compromise

By Michelle Sutherland

Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, along with Police senior command, met with members of the media on Thursday to iron out differences over media-police communications, which recently resulted in a press boycott of all police activities.

The meeting took place at the Racoon Street Police Station and though there was no major breakthrough, both sides agreed for certain changes to be made within the Police Public Relations Office (PRO). ComPol Whylie and members of the media agreed to the changes with the condition of reviewing the new system at a meeting scheduled for April 28.

Whylie, however, would not budge from his stance that all interviews and police briefings must first be approved by him. He did agree to review each request on a case by case basis as the media insisted that since the new policy became effective in January, only two such briefings were granted. In the event of Whylie’s absence, Deputy Commissioner Russel Blackett will grant or deny approval.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Chester Williams, has also been tasked with supervising the PRO to ensure that information is disseminated to the media in a timely fashion, including on weekends. Media personnel have also been added back to the official Belize Police Department Whatsapp chat group, which media members left en-masse last week.

Internally, ACP Noel Lodge has been tasked with ensuring that the police sit-reps are passed on to the PRO in a prompt and effective manner so the free flow of information is not hindered.

Whylie assured the media that he will be meeting with the police commanders countrywide to inform them of the new policies.

Police-media relations became strained following that January meeting when the new policy was introduced. Frustrations bubbled over when it became evident that the police press department would either completely ignore queries or struggled to confirm basic details of major criminal incidents.

The media boycott of police events has been suspended pending review of the arrangement.




Comments are closed.