Muni Police’s New Image
While the number of Roatan Municipal police officers has decreased in the past several years from 22 to 18, they are no more efficient or more effective than before. Their uniforms are less intimidating as the lawmen switched from dark green to a more approachable aqua-marine blue knit shirt.
Joe Solomon, Roatan’s Municipal Police Chief, says that Mayor Julio Galindo has increased the starting police officer’s salary from Lps. 5,500 to Lps. 10,000. “The turnover was just terrible,” says Salomon. Other than just stopping constant rotation of employees, the higher salary has attracted a few more islanders to the profession. According to Solomon there are currently six bilingual Municipal police officers.
The police use one vehicle, a pick-up, to leave their Coxen Hole base on patrols. “We do patrols in French Harbour, Los Fuertes, West End and West Bay,” says Solomon.
Two Honda scooters are used for patrolling streets around Coxen Hole and enforcing parking violations. Solomon says that four to five parking fines, typically Lps. 500, are administered every day.
The municipal police are responsible for doing business license inspections; accompany municipal officials on their duties, direct traffic at school crossings in urban areas and on cruise ship visiting days.
Another responsibility of the municipal police is looking after recently released prisoners who still need to pay off fines assigned to them in their sentence. In Honduras, additionally to a prison term, the convicts are given a fine to pay off to the state. Once they served their prison term, the municipality where they live assigns them community service paid at Honduras’ minimum wage- Lps. 5,800 a month. They sweep the streets and clean local cemeteries until they pay-off the fine in full. “If they don’t finish their work, they are sent back to prison,” explains Marlen Mejilla, Roatan Justice Director. According to Mejilla there are seven individuals in Roatan Municipality who do the community work. “Its usually crimes related to drug trafficking.” [/private]