‘Zero tolerance’ on crime

The Cayman Islands will see major changes in policing starting next week when the Royal Cayman Islands Police launches a dramatic anticrime campaign involving roadblocks, stops and searches and a 24-hour hotline for burglaries and serious crimes.

Announcing a broad-based crackdown on the months-long flurry of burglaries, shootings, drug offences and even traffic violations, Acting Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon said yesterday that ‘the RCIP will launch the most offensive fight against crime these islands have ever seen’.

‘We have the equipment and the resources to sustain this, a multi-agent approach involving the government, non-government organisations and corporations.’

Mr. Dixon also indicated a new police commissioner would be recruited from overseas.

‘I am Acting Commissioner until 1 October and the governor is advertising in Canada and the UK and around the Caribbean,’ Mr. Dixon said.

Saying the public would have to endure certain inconveniences, Mr. Dixon said frequent road blocks and searches were designed to boost a new ‘zero-tolerance’ policy toward crime, stopping transport of contraband, rooting out drunk driving and reducing late-night loitering at liquor-license premises and gas stations.

‘You will need an excuse to be in [certain] public places after sundown,’ Mr. Dixon said.

Extensive searches would start immediately at airports and container terminals to prevent smuggling both into and out of the Islands.

He said 18 new police vehicles would arrive within two weeks, donated by the Miami-based Florida Police Association, and mobile police vans would patrol neighbourhoods known for drug dealing.

The Immigration Department will get tough on work-permit violations, working with the Contractors’ Association to pool resources and reduce the number of construction workers employed on the island.

‘Workers are going to be required to carry their work permits with them,’ Mr. Dixon said, explaining some of the new stop-and-search tactics.

Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis said police presence would be increased throughout the islands as desk-bound officers, whose work did not require specific police skills, will be reassigned to frontline work and replaced by civilians.

Until now, he said, overtime had not been paid to officers, who sometimes worked as much as 300 extra hours in a year. The officers would now be paid out of money originally intended for salaries, but unused because of short staffing within the force.

Even senior officers would be reassigned to front-line duties, he said, although none above the level of Chief Inspector would collect overtime pay.

Mr. Dixon called on the public to aid police efforts by providing information, testifying in court and refusing refuge to criminals.

‘The problem of crime cannot rest at the feet of the police alone,’ Mr Ennis said. ‘Forgive me if I liken it to terrorism, but our country is under threat.

‘Crime has its roots in social and economic policies. The police do not create social problems. The fabric [of society] is under threat from many directions, and the police play a significant part, but the community and the media have to work together as well.’

The RCIP was seeking to open stations and increase staffing in Cayman’s eastern districts, particularly in Bodden Town, the fastest-growing area of Grand Cayman

‘We are looking at a satellite station between Bodden Town and George Town to serve that area,’ said Mr. Ennis. ‘I believe that North Side and East End should have full-time officers and even Savannah Newlands, which is getting a new shopping complex, needs to get police in.

‘One of the problems has been that we have waited until we had a problem and then we tried to fix it. I believe we should put resources in before we have a problem. We have asked for a 24-hour presence in East End and North Side.’

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