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Laddie's Legacy Of Reform

Last Updated: June 7, 2023

The Justice for Laddie Foundation has always maintained that seeking justice for Laddie was never about retribution or vengeance.

Rather, our goal has always been to use the tragedy of Laddie’s murder to bring about positive change while supporting Belize’s young people through a series of initiatives that include: creating safe spaces for children with upgraded parks and playgrounds, grief counselling for youths traumatized by gun violence, clubhouse locations with computer labs for teenaged girls and boys, amplifying youth voices and concerns through conferences and assembles.

Positive, lasting reform is an important part of Laddie’s legacy that the Foundation is committed to promote.

And this is why we were heartened by recent Belize Police Department initiatives, along with statements made by Police Commissioner Chester Williams and the Hon Kareem Musa that align with the Foundation’s principles.

Police pledges for more transparency and accountability following another shooting of a teen by police officers, by offering a joint US Embassy and Belize Police training course in de-escalating potentially violent confrontations while avoiding unnecessary use of force, a new committee to oversee gun licencing, and other changes give us hope that Laddie’s killing and the public response that followed are having a positive, long lasting effect on Belizean society.

ComPol pledges transparency in policing

During a March 27, 2023 Channel 7 report, Police Commissioner Williams addressed the shooting of Orange Walk teenager Dyandre Chee, and made a commitment to transparency and accountability in investigating that specific case, and in police operations generally.

“I have always said that I hold police officers to a higher standard, because we are trained to exercise great restraint in difficult situations,” the Commissioner said.

Channel 7 piece

We applaud that statement, and hope that this means that police officers who use unjustifiable force, especially when it results in the death of an innocent Belizean, can expect to be impartially investigated, tried and sentenced accordingly. Such a commitment could go a long way in preventing unnecessary tragedies like Laddie’s killing.

Better training in de-escalation and avoiding the use of force

We were also impressed by a recent joint US Embassy and Belize Police Department training program designed to “help officers de-escalate situations without the use of excessive force.”

US Ambassador to Belize Michele Kwan praised the training for instilling in police officers “the knowledge, the experience, and tools they need to de-escalate some of the tough situations that they are in…”

Reminding us that “police officers are human beings,” Ambassador Kwan said the tools gained from this training will help officers handle those situations.

Channel 7 News Piece

Home Affairs Minister Musa acknowledged that previously “we recognized that there’s a culture within the police department that needed to change,” and praised the Denver (Colorado, USA) Police Department’s defensive tactics course during the training.

Laddie’s Foundation firmly supports training in de-escalation, defensive tactics, and other areas as ways to make policing less prone to violent confrontations, more open to communication, and more responsive to the communities’ police officers serve.

Musa announces a committee for gun licencing reform

Another positive Channel 7 report had Minister Musa outlining changes to how gun permits will be issued in Belize. One of the key changes will be that people applying for a firearm licence will need to go through a certification course overseen by a board made up of responsible citizens.

“So, similar to a visa vetting committee you will have a gun licencing vetting committee and you have to be trained and qualified and certified before you can be issued a licence,” Minister Musa explained.

Channel 7 Gun Report

Laddie’s Foundation applauds the establishment of this committee. Bringing in citizens to work with the police department to oversee something as important as owning a gun is obviously a step in the right direction towards public safety.

Previously, the Commissioner was the only person authorised to issue a gun permit, and, according to, his department issued some 800 licences a year. More people applying for gun licences means more work for the Police Department. We believe that having an external committee responsible for the granting of licences will relieve pressure on the department and allow for more careful vetting of applications. Such an approach can help weed out fraudulent applications and make for a safer Belize.

Worldwide there’s a trend to involve citizens and community groups with policing as a way to facilitate communication and cooperation between police and communities.

Laddie’s Foundation has long been calling for the adoption of Laddie’s Law, which contains the provision for a private citizens review board to examine and issue a report on any instance of a minor being hurt or killed by police officers. Such a review board or committee could build trust and positively affect relations between police officers and the communities they serve.

Laddie's Law

We stand ready to assist the Police Department however we can, especially when it comes to community relations.

Laddie’s Law is comprised of four common sense measures:

  • Create a private citizens review board to examine and issue a report on any instance of a minor being hurt or killed by police officers
  • Ensure that any police officer who, in carrying out his or her duties, causes injuries or death to a member of the public, and especially a minor,immediately be tested for the presence of drugs or alcohol
  • Make it mandatory that the results of those tests, as well as sworn testimony by attending police officers, medical personnel and first responders such as ambulance drivers be immediately and formally recorded
  • Ensure that police officers who discharge their service weapons – for any reason - fill out and sign a form outlining when, where, under what conditions, and for what reason they fired their weapon