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Belize Police Department's History

First System of Policing

The State of Belize (known prior to 1973 as British Honduras) gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 21 September 1981. The British Honduras Police Force became known as the Belize Police Force.

The first system of organised policing came into existence in 1886

when the British Honduras Constabulary Force was formed under the command of Captain D M Allen who had served with the First West Indian Regiment until his appointment. Members of the Force were mainly recruited from nationals of Barbados on five year contracts and trained for appointment in British Honduras. By 1888 the Establishment of the Force was 175 officers and other ranks and they were garrisoned in the towns of Orange Walk, Corozal and Belize City. Command of the Force passed to Mr A E Kershaw in 1888 and as many of the Barbados officers returned home at the end of their contracts a further 100 Jamaicans were recruited. Mr A B R Kay succeeded Mr Kershaw in 1893 and the following year the Jamaicans laid down their arms and were sent back to Jamaica. Mr Kay remained in charge of two units of the Constabulary Force in Orange Walk and Corozal. Meanwhile in Belize City a Civil Police Force was formed under the command of Mr Sydney Gower Woods who voluntarily took office as Acting Superintendent of Police. Douglas Dury Barnes succeeded Mr Woods in 1985 and on the latters death in 1905 Assistant Superintendent Robert Wyatt assumed command of the Force. In 1902 the separate Constabulary Force was abolished and the police adopted the title British Honduras Police Force. By 1920 with the appointment of Mr F J L Cavenaugh and the end of the First World War, the Force was re-organised and British Honduras soldiers returning home enlisted in the Force for the first time. In the years that followed the foundation of the unified Police Force as we know it today as laid and the Force was commanded by a succession of expatriate officers who held the post of Superintendent of Police. In 1931 Superintendent of Police, Major J H SEMPILL was killed in the course of his duties during a Hurricane which devastated Belize City that year. 

First Belizean Commissioner of Police

Thereafter, the title of the commanding officer changed to Commissioner of Police in 1957 and Mr Bruce H Taylor was appointed the first Commissioner. During Mr Taylor's tenure of office whch lasted until 1966, road improvements in Belize and other developments were complemented by the introduction of wireless radio communications in all police districts greatly enhancing the communications capabilities of the Force. A Police Training School was formally established and by 1963 women were being recruited into the Force as Constables. On 6 January 1964 by an important constitutional change internal self government was granted to British Honduras whereby responsibility for everything except Internal Security, Defence and discipline was passed to an elected Minister of Government. The Governor retained responsibility for security and related matters. Between 1968 and 1970 the Police Special Force was formed and organised into three Units. A new administrative Headquarters was built and a Superintendent was placed in command of the new Unit which was trained in general police and military duties and tasked as an internal security force additionally responsible for riot duties, search and rescue and ceremonial parades. Mr R W Watson succeeded Mr Taylor as Commissioner and commanded the Force from 1966 until 1969.

The first Belizean Police Commissioner, Mr. S. A. J. ADOLPHOUS OBE QPM BEM was appointed in 1969

and on 16 November 1970 Force Headquarters was transferred to Belmopan the new capital. At the end of 1977 it was decided to disband the Police Special Force with the formation of the Belize Defence Force which came into being in January 1978. Some police oficers joined the Defnce Force while others remained in a smaller Tactical Support Unit within the Police Force which was formed to provide a quick response capability in the event of serious crime or disorder.

Functions of the Force at the time

In the ensuing years the Belize Police Force grew in strength and developed into an efficient civil police organisation based on the British system of policing to meet the needs of the country as it developed into a nation state. In 1985 the Government of the day decided that the functions of Special Branch of the Force should be taken over by a new independent body the Security Intelligence Service. This arrangement lasted until 1990 when a new Government disbanded the Security Intelligence Service and the functions of Special Branch were re-instated and subsequently modified in view of the collapse of the communist threat and the increasing threat to society from the use and trafficking in controlled drugs and the rise in criminality. Meanwhile the Police Force gradually handed over to new departments most of the work of Immigration, Customs and Vehicle Licensing as these functions were separated from the duties of the police. The Belize Police Force is now a member of the International Police community and members of the Force are trained and equipped to perform the duties which society has entrusted to the Police Force, to prevent and detect crime, to protect life and property, to preserve peace and maintain law and order in all parts of Belize and to perform these duties in accordance with the Constitution of Belize and with justice and integrity.

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