|History of The Belize Police Department|
The Belize Police Department as we know it today has gone through four major phases of reorganization. Between 1886 and 1902, it was known as the ‘British Honduras Constabulary Force’; from 1902 to 1973, it was named the ‘British Honduras Police Force’ and following the Constitutional change of the name of the country from British Honduras to Belize in 1973 the name ‘Belize Police Force’ was adopted. Earlier that decade the use of the word ‘Force’ was changed to fit the new vision of the Police and it is now known as the Belize Police Department
In 1886, Ordinance No. 06 of 1887 was passed to alter the title of the Commandant to Inspector Commandant of the British Honduras Constabulary Force. Captain Allen then returned to Barbados in 1888 and completed two more recruiting expeditions. By March 1888, the Constabulary Force had reached its authorized strength of 175 personnel. Prior to 1886 and before the organization of a Police Force in this country, law and order was preserved by two companies of Imperial Troops. Those troops were soldiers garrisoned in Belize, Corozal, and Orange Walk Towns primarily to guard our frontiers from ‘Indian’ raids and for the defense of the Colony. During that time, Marcus Canul, a renegade ‘Indian’ Chief from across the Mexican Border with his band of Indians, used to raid the farmers of Orange Walk and Corozal. Two strong forts (Fort Cairns in Orange Walk Town and Fort Barlee in Corozal Town) had to be constructed in order to repel the attacks.
On 8th October 1885, Ordinance no. 28 of 1885 was passed which provided for the organization of a Police Force for the Colony. This Ordinance was enacted on account of the decision by the Secretary of State for War to withdraw the two companies of Imperial Troops stationed in the Colony in order to effect a better centralization of troops in the West Indies. Captain D.M. Allen who was a member of the Imperial Troops was made Commandant of the new British Honduras Constabulary. He was ordered to recruit men from Barbados and in November 1886 returned to the Colony with the first intake of sixty recruits. They had received three months drill training in Barbados and after conducting a short rifle drill practice with the troops in Belize City, they were transferred to Fort Cairns in Orange Walk to replace the Imperial Troops who had been ordered to sail to Jamaica.
The recruitment of new officers now made it possible to provide manpower to Fort Barlee in Corozal. In 1888, the remaining Imperial Troops were withdrawn to Jamaica. This movement was met with bitter opposition from the inhabitants of the Colony who by memorials to Her Majesty’s Government complained that the withdrawal of the Troops was tantamount to delivering the Colony over to the ‘Indians’ and that the Constabulary would cost them more money. While it did cost more, the Constabulary Force stood its ground and prevented a take-over by Canul and his band of renegades.
In 1888 the annual salaries of the British Honduras Constabulary Force were as follows:
Inspector Commandant -$2,250 and Living Quarters
Inspector -$1,750 and Living Quarters
Sub Inspector -$1,250 and Living Quarters
Mounted Sergeants -$501.50
Foot Sergeant -$456.00
Mounted corporals -$348.00
Mounted Constable -$312.00
Foot 1st Class Constables -$300.00
Foot 2nd Class Constables -$276.00
In 1888, A.E. Kershaw took over Command of the Constabulary Force and was succeeded by Major ABR Kaye by 1893. The three contingents recruited from Barbados signed five year contracts and between 1891 - 1893, many of these men returned home at the expiration of their contracts. By this time however, some of the troopers that had been withdrawn, had finished their term in the Regiment, and accepted employment in the Constabulary Force. This number did not compensate for the number of departing officers and, since Government could not fill their places with recruits from the Colony, by arrangement with the Government of Jamaica, one hundred (100) men were recruited into the Constabulary Force from Jamaica. In 1894, a strong rumor circulated through the colony that the then currency would be based on the Mexican dollar and consequently, salaries would be decreased in value. This caused great dissatisfaction for many of the officers and men of the Force and the majority of them laid down their arms. Government decided to pay the men off, dispense of their services and send those who desired to leave, back to Jamaica.