Police commander apologizes for ‘home invasion’

Regional Commander of Eastern Division South, Senior. Supt. Chester Williams on Tuesday issued a personal apology to a Belize City resident after police ran through her home in search of some unspecified person. It is likely that this is the first time that any such action has been taken, despite many complaints of police acting outside their authority.
Evadne Scott, a resident of Raccoon Street Extension, told the Reporter that on Saturday night police officers, dressed in black, ran into her yard claiming they were chasing somebody wearing red shorts. Those officers did not search the yard, but instead ran into her daughter’s house in the same yard.

“They went way into my daughter bedroom and she was naked. She had to grab the curtain and put it around her to prevent them from seeing her”, an irate Scott told us.
She claims that ,not satisfied with that outrage, the men then stormed into her home. Her two great-grandchildren were there – “and then he have ih gun out, and my granddaughter tell ahn like this…how you wah have out yo gun like dat and we have children in yah, we have two baby eena di yard? And he say he noh care because he di do ih duty.”
Sr. Supt. Chester Williams clarified today that the police have the right to enter premises without permission in special circumstances.

“There are times when the police are in hot pursuit. They may see somebody running and in the process of running, they go into a house. Again the law allows the police to be able to go in immediately after that person to apprehend,” Williams explained.
Still, Williams has visited the Scott home and has apologized for the actions of his officers – at least the part where they entered her daughter’s bedroom and had guns out in the presence of small children. According to Williams, he has spoken to the officers involved and has informed them that in the future they must be more careful.
“Apparently the person that they were chasing did not go into the house, so it was a mistake. And if we have things like that, then we must be man enough to apologise for the mistake that we have made ”, he said.

In the normal course of events, police are required to have a search warrant before entering a home. The Firearms Act does however, allow them to enter homes without a warrant if officers have reason to believe that there are firearms on the premises.
Evadne Scott has accepted the apology from Williams, though she is still not altogether happy about the actions of the officers under his command.’ watch.

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