Tourist Police to Return to West End
With crime on Roatan hitting unprecedented levels, West End appears to have solved the knotty financial issues that caused the Tourist Police to abandon their station there more than seven months ago.
At press time representatives of the village council (patronato) were optimistic the station would reopen in early December with 20 officers, roughly double what it had before. A town meeting was to be called to discuss how to deploy the officers and to address public safety concerns.
As we reported in June, the police abandoned the station, located in a private home, in April because of a dispute over who should pay its electric bill. Police and Roatan Mayor Julio Galindo maintained the local tourism chamber had committed to pay it when the station was established more than two years earlier. Unpaid bills to the Roatan Electric Company (RECO) totaled several thousand dollars.
Daine Etches, a member of the West End Patronato and treasurer of one of West End’s two water boards, said agreement was reached in November that the water boards would pay the RECO debt, which she said exceeded Lps. 109,000. She said the Polo board, which covers the northern district, had already paid half the debt, and the other board is working on a plan to pay the rest. Meanwhile, she said, donations from the community were being used to clean, renovate and furnish the building, as well as to provide bicycles for police patrols.
Etches said the Roatan Municipal Government would pay the rent on the station house as before. But she said that the owner had agreed to reduce the rent from the previous $500 to $300 and that the Municipality would use the $200 savings to pay the electric bill going forward.
The Patronato had hoped to reinaugurate the West End police station December 1, but at press time Etches said rain delays might push the opening back a few days.
West End community leaders are now exploring the cost and feasibility of installing surveillance cameras to further deter crime in the area.