You Watch My Back, I’ll Watch Yours
Security guards at about a dozen West End businesses are now coordinating regularly by radio with each other and the police thanks to Alvin Jackson and Michele Akel, who own Hotel Chillies and Native Sons dive center in Half Moon Bay.
Jackson, a Roatan native, said he started thinking late last year about what he could do without breaking the bank to improve security in the area, which had been experiencing a lot of robberies and assaults. “The first thing that came to mind was to create a network of the already paid private security people,” he recounted. He concluded that getting them all marine hand-held VHF radios was “the most cost-effective and practical.”
Akel, who is originally from England, said she began shopping the idea around to area businesses in December and got several commitments to participate. Jackson then ordered 15 radios and chargers, which arrived in March. Akel posted on Facebook March 23 that the alliance was “up and running.” But Jackson said it was only after he held a training session with the watchmen and the police April 15 on how to use the radios that the program “started up properly.”
Sub-inspector Bustillo of the Tourist Police said the Watchmen’s Alliance, together with wider use of security cameras by area businesses, had been “very helpful” in reducing crime since the Tourist Police returned to their post in West End in February. “They let us know immediately when there’s a problem,” he said.
Jackson and Akel are now looking at additional cost-effective ways to improve security in West End.
“I’m trying to get people to dig into their pockets and buy a vest or something, along with the radio,” said Jackson, so that tourists can identify private security guards and seek their assistance. “The whole thing is a deterrent plan. What we really want is that people hear about this, this watchmen thing going on in West End, and that we’ve got better security.”
Akel said she would like to get about 10 more businesses to participate in the Alliance and for those without watchmen to get security cameras to fill in gaps. She said residences could participate as well.
“Before we all had cell phones, we all had radios,” said Akel. “It was our way of communicating.”
She said they were also thinking about getting everyone whistles, which they would blow three times if there’s an incident, to alert everyone in the area.
“That’s a great little deterrent,” she said.