Weekend News

Police department introduces new policy on ‘special duties’

By Michelle Sutherland

The Belize Police Department, this week, announced changes to its policy on officers working ‘special duties’. The policy-change was influenced, in part, by the U.S. State Department’s 2017 report on Human Trafficking, which cited the department for dispatching officers to brothels that often employ human trafficking victims.

The new policy requires proprietors to apply to formation commanders at least 72 hours prior to the event and include a description of specific duties and requested time frame. If approved, business owners will be given an invoice and payment must be made to the Treasury Department.

The policy change follows the Human Trafficking report, which listed Belize as a Tier 3 country, the worst possible ranking, and worst among Central American nations. Belize was also recently put on a list of countries banned from applying for specific US work visas.

According to the report, Belize’s government had not made any significant effort in addressing human trafficking in the country and even claimed that top government officials facilitated human trafficking. “The presence of off-duty police officers providing security for alleged sex trade establishments may not just inhibit victims from coming forward, but also hinder police investigations, especially against possible employers,” the U.S. State Department report said.

The new rates for special duties by officers are as follows: constables and corporals – $12.50 per hour; sergeants – $14.50 per hour; and senior officers – $15.00 per hour.

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