Gangs are alive and well in the Cayman Islands.
We learned this week there are around 13 gangs roaming the streets of Grand Cayman. Many of their members have left their marks and tell-tell signs all over the island and specifically in George Town.
Most of us wouldn’t recognize the difference from gang graffiti and a child’s sidewalk chalk drawing.
But the gangs know the signs and symbols.
So do the police.
Now it’s time for the good people of the Cayman Islands to pull their collective heads out of the sand and admit there is a gang problem here.
We can no longer be in denial. The young men and women who are wreaking havoc on this country are not just little groupings of friends.
They are members of gangs. They are dangerous. They are deadly.
If there wasn’t a problem with gangs the Royal Cayman Islands Police wouldn’t be investing hard-earned money, equipment and manpower in a special force.
But the police can’t solve this problem without the help of the collective community.
The Government and social organisations must get involved. Schools and churches must be part of the solution. More needs to be done than just opening doors for anti-gang speeches and presentations.
It’s time for everyone to roll up their shirt sleeves and get involved. Anyone who has any information about gangs or crimes has a duty to take that information to the police.
We all have to work together to convince children that it is not cool to be in a gang.
On the judicial end of things, police need cases that will stand up in court for swift and certain prosecution and conviction.
To do that, police need information. And that comes from you.
Let police know when you observe bad or inappropriate behaviour in children.
Parents and guardians should know where their children are at all times and who they are hanging out with.
Watch for signs of behaviour changes in children.
Gangs can only survive if people fail to do anything.
And failure to do anything will put this country in a position that those in denial about gang activity have feared all along – a rogue country run by gangs of thugs. Indeed, one of the documented latter stages of gang development is when gangs and their leaders begin to seek political legitimacy and social respect.
It’s time to take Cayman back.