The Royal Cayman Islands Police have cut services in the wake of a crisis that has sidelined a significant number of the department’s vehicles.
Salt-water flooding from Ivan damaged the 82–car fleet so extensively that every vehicle requires either replacement or repair.
‘A week ago we had 28 vehicles in the shop,’ said Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon.
‘With the repair problems and the salt water, the entire fleet has to be renewed,’ he said.
Street patrols have suffered as the street-worthy cars frequently require repairs.
‘We can’t provide the kind of service we should now,’ said Mr. Dixon.
‘We do not want to do that, but it’s the only way. ‘
Police Commissioner Buel Braggs said the department was managing the problems as best it could, but that it was a struggle.
‘We lost 23 vehicles completely as a result of the hurricane,’ he said.
‘We’ve still got a few operating, about 59 on the road, but they are in and out for maintenance quite a lot.’
He explained that every unit on the island had its own set of vehicles, CID, DTF, the West Bay and Bodden Town commands, George Town and the Sister Islands.
‘If these vehicles break down, well, we see what we can do,’ he said, trading, loaning and moving cars between services.
‘Sometimes we even have to rent vehicles,’ Mr. Braggs said.
Mr Dixon said rental charges for the vehicles are astronomical and included not only daily rental charges, but also repair and insurance bills.
Mr. Braggs said police had returned the rental vehicles as quickly as possible.
‘We are coping with what we have, but we need new vehicles.
‘We have to replace the majority of the 82 vehicles because even those that are not damaged, they are 1999 cars and have more than 100,000 miles on them,’ he said.
A new fully equipped patrol car costs between CI$28,000 and CI$29,000, while vehicles for C.I.D. and other non-patrol uses each cost between CI$16,000 and $18,000, meaning total costs could run as high as $2 million
Mr. Dixon said the department had acquired 10 new vehicles some time ago, and had recently acquired an additional eight, but that patrol cars were not easily procured.
‘These are not the sort of things you buy off the shelf,’ he said.
‘The problem with police vehicles is you get them three months after you order because they’ve got to be built.’
Many of the vehicles are manufactured in the Unites States by Chevrolet, although Mr, Braggs said the department had arrangements with manufacturers all over the world.
Mr. Braggs said the department was looking at ways to reduce costs and make up the shortfall
‘The government has been very supportive, and we appreciate their efforts,’ he said.
‘We are trying to look at an overall scheme. Maybe we can lease vehicles and then all we would have to do is the insurance while maintenance and repairs would be borne by the [rental] agency, and [the cars] would be replaced on a yearly basis. ‘