Mobile police station boosts profile

The new mobile police station operated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service – a gleaming white oversize van with an enormous roof-mounted camera – has completed a successful trial on the streets of East End.

Furnished with an outdoor canopy and electric lights, TV monitors, full radio communications and the latest surveillance technology, the specially designed Freightliner Sprinter, imported from south Florida, is intended to boost the visibility of police patrols, offering communities a sense of security.

‘We’ve been looking at this for quite some time,’ said Police Commissioner Buel Braggs on Friday.

‘If there is an emergency, it can be used as a command centre, but the main thing is that it can be on-site, in the districts and any hot spots, and show a police presence.’

In the wake of a recent series of shootings and deaths in East End, George Town and West Bay, the RCIPS have been under pressure to demonstrate a more aggressive pursuit of crime.

‘This is a very strong resource and the reaction has been very positive,’ said Constable Sean Vasquez, one of the officers operating the new Freightliner in East End.

‘People have been reassured that they are seeing more of a police presence. They appreciate the high visibility and that the RCIPS is addressing their needs in the community.’

The mobile station is equipped with generators, chairs, a long desk, microphones and flat-screen monitors linked to the rooftop cameras.

A retractable exterior awning creates a shady area for people to meet officers and ask questions, while police are able to observe and gather information at a local level.

‘This has been in discussion for several months in community meetings, since the last quarter of 2004, and island residents all thought it was an excellent idea,’ said Inspector Adrian Seales.

Constable Alex Schulz said that, despite some initial fears, the new service had not proved intrusive or driven people away.

‘I would say it’s exactly the opposite of that. Really, 99 percent of people are law-abiding. People are sometimes reluctant to give information, but with this people are reassured and feel that security.’

Commissioner Braggs said that after the East End trial, police would decide how to proceed with the new service.

‘Maybe each district will have its own mobile station; we’ll see how it goes.

‘These will get some very heavy usage and maybe we will see problems after they build up a lot of mileage, but we could end up getting more of these.’

Each diesel-powered Frieghtliner costs more than US$100,000, and is custom designed to manoeuvre in the tiny streets of Cayman communities.

Commissioner Braggs was unable to estimate the lifespan of each unit, saying only that they ‘would take a pretty good beating’, but that the department would look after the vehicles as best they could.

He thanked Government for the acquisition: ‘We’re happy to have such a vehicle, and we’re going to get as much out of it as we can.’