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Partners Announces Initiative in Belize to Improve Citizen Security

Partners for Democratic Change is pleased to announce a new 18-month initiative with the U.S. Embassy in Belize: Community-Police Collaboration to Improve Citizen Security in Belize (CPC-Belize).

Central America has become one of the most violent regions of the world, and what is often referred to as the “northern triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, should really be identified as the “northern rectangle” to include Belize as one of the highest priorities for the U.S. government’s security interests. The region has become a major transit point for drugs making their way up into Mexico and the U.S. and Belize stands right in the middle of this deadly cocktail of drugs, guns and gangs. The escalating crisis in Belize City has seen homicide rates skyrocket and the justice system and law enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to deal with this increase in criminal activity and violent gangs.

As the U.S. government invests in the capabilities of the justice and security systems in the region, community organizations and leaders must also be involved in any comprehensive security strategy. Partners therefore designed CPC-Belize to build more effective bridges between law enforcement and the community to achieve the overarching goal of improving citizen security in target communities in Belize through two main program objectives: (1) to strengthen the capacity of Belizean organizations to effectively establish trust between the police and the community, and (2) to increase collaboration between Belizean service providers for at-risk youth to prevent their involvement in criminal activities.

Partners has established a partnership with RESTORE Belize, a program created by the Office of the Prime Minister to bring together government, civil society and private sector stakeholders to address the current security crisis. Building on their newly released 2011-2015 Strategic Plan, Partners is convening all CPC-Belize activities under the auspices of RESTORE Belize to support their role as convener and national coordination body. CPC-Belize is providing international experts from the North American Family Institute (NAFI) to share its innovative Youth-Police Initiative (YPI). Partners and NAFI experts will begin the project by conducting an initial assessment to adapt the YPI to the Belize context, and will then develop and implement a Training of Trainers program for a cadre of security sector and community leaders. These Belizean trainers will work directly with local community organizations to facilitate dialogue processes with at-risk youth and police in three target communities in the Southside of Belize City. Finally, CPC-Belize will support three community organizations to coordinate local referral networks to provide additional services for the at-risk youth participants such as life skills training and workplace development. The expected results of CPC-Belize are that by increasing the capacity of Belizean organizations to coordinate and implement community trust-building activities and improved prevention services for at-risk youth, citizens will become important allies to law enforcement agencies in combatting rising crime and insecurity in Belize and the region.

For more information on CPC-Belize, please contact Jessica Varat.

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