RCIP to host weekly public meetings

The Royal Cayman Islands Police will launch a weekly series of public meetings starting Tuesday 19 July in George Town to explain the crime crackdown announced this week and to set objectives making police accountable.

The two-hour meetings will convene sequentially in every district of Grand Cayman and continue throughout August.

The 19 July gathering, the first of two in George Town, will take place at the Red Bay Primary School.

Additionally, at 11am today, Acting Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon will meet the governor, the chief secretary, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and the four other ministers to discuss the crackdown.

‘We are setting objectives right now and there will be some level of input received from the public,’ said Mr. Dixon.

Strong community reaction is expected to the crackdown, launched on Monday in response to an increase in crime throughout Grand Cayman.

On Monday, Mr Dixon and Acting Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis detailed a list of measures to seize the initiative in the anti-crime battle, including stepped up highway and neighbourhood patrols, widespread stops-and-searches, roadblocks and increased police presence throughout the island.

Anticipating increased costs for the effort, Mr. Dixon said government had offered the RCIP its full support in the new fiscal year.

‘We are preparing the budget right now, and it must go to the finance committee to be approved,’ he said. ‘But the government has been fully supportive of our requests.’

While declining to provide specific numbers, Mr. Dixon described official promises of financial support as ‘beyond my wildest dreams.’

The RCIP has had some successes in fighting the crime trend recently, including making a significant confiscation of firearms and ammunition.

Despite the successes, though, Mr. Dixon cautioned that the problem remained and was likely to demand further police resources.

‘It’s safe to assume that firearms are still at large,’ he said, pointing out that if police seized ammunition without a matching firearm, the guns were probably still in circulation.

‘From our ballistics and analysis, we know there are pistols and high-powered firearms out there,’ he said, ‘although we have no intelligence that would lead us to believe there is anything more (that we don’t know about).’

He said increases in murder, rape and burglary were simple to understand, if more difficult to combat.

‘Our position as to rape is that, in fact, it’s not really a prevalent crime in Cayman, and you don’t need a whole lot (for the statistic) to go up.’

In fact, the fist six months of 2005 registered eight rapes, an increase of five from the same 2004 period, creating a statistical growth of 167 per cent.

Burglary grew 49 per cent from 2004, jumping from 301 incidents to 449.

‘A lot of people are committing this offence. A lot are related to the recovery operations,’ Mr. Dixon said.

‘There is a lot of opportunity for these offences because there is a lot of unprotected property.’

Murders in the first half of 2005 rose by only a single offence, from two murders to three murders.

‘This is due to the rivalry between the two factions on the island,’ Mr. Dixon said. ‘They are primarily responsible for these statistics.’

The factions are locked in a turf war involving the drug-and firearm-smuggling trade, a significant portion of which originates in Jamaica.

The Jamaican Constabulary has arrested a number of people and seized large quantities of drugs and the boats that transport them 180 miles to the Cayman coastline.

Mr. Dixon also attributed some of the recorded increases to better crime reporting, and said he looked forward to public cooperation in anti-crime efforts.

‘When you get an increase in reported crime, it is sometimes on the occasion when the police launch a campaign, and we know we can look forward to better reporting.

‘When there is a fear of crime, you also get more reporting. The public has good cause to be fearful and we want the reporting to continue,’ he said.