Police force manpower down

The Royal Cayman Police force is looking overseas for trained officers because it is short 32 officers.

‘We are in the process of recruitment and have advertisements in Canada,’ said Police Commissioner Buel Braggs.

‘We’ve been struggling, but we are managing, doing the best we can.

‘We are finding the money to pay for them. We need manpower more than we need vehicles,’ he said.

Police have been battling reductions in the vehicle fleet forced on them by salt-water flooding from Hurricane Ivan.

Ivan also forced a number of expatriate officers off Cayman, leaving the department short-staffed in almost all areas.

‘They were officers with more than five years experience. They were all-rounders: traffic police, serious crimes, everything,’ Mr. Braggs said.

The formal police establishment is 320 officers, he said, which means the department has only about 290.

‘We make it up by doing double time and additional shifts,’ he said, allowing that it had created strains throughout the force.

‘We try to get it right, and we have well-motivated and committed fellows.’

Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon said the shortfalls had forced certain compromises in service, although the money the department was saving in salaries enabled police to fund purchase and rental of vehicles to replace those damaged by Ivan.

‘The money we would have spent on salaries for these people we are using to buy vehicles. This will get us through to the new financial year on July 1, just around the time we’ll be getting new officers,’ Mr. Dixon said.

The department’s 2004-2005 budget was CI$22 million. Changes in accounting systems make comparisons difficult with previous years, although the 2003-2004 budget was approximately $20.9 million.

Mr. Braggs said recruiting trained officers took time.

‘They will have to give at least one month’s notice if they are serving officers,’ the Commissioner said.

‘We will be doing interviews late next month, but they won’t be here until July.’

Mr. Dixon said he expected the July budget would alleviate the problem, but until then, managers had to strike a delicate balance.

‘If you manage your money properly, you can get money from one area and spend it in the next, but you have to sacrifice one area of policing for another,’ he said.

Mr. Braggs credited his accountants with finding the right mix.

‘We will get through. We are going to do it. We have a good financial controller, something very important.’