Acting Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon has firmly rejected calls to arm police patrols as part of the RCIP’s anti-crime campaign.
Fielding questions at a public meeting among top RCIP officers and West Bay residents, Mr Dixon said on Tuesday might that arming police was an irreversible step, and invited an escalation in violence.
‘I would be the last one to want to see one of my officers harmed in any way,’ Mr. Dixon told the gathering of approximately 30 people at the John A Cumber Primary School.
‘But if I arm all the officers, the criminal knows that and he knows what he has to do to get away, and the more likely the police are to get hurt then.’
He said the mere fact of arming the police was unlikely to prevent crime, but it would raise the stakes for anyone contemplating a burglary or assault. Even arming a select few officers could brook trouble.
‘If the criminals know that some of the police are armed and some are not, they have to assume that all of them are,’ and were likely to act accordingly, Mr. Dixon said.
Mr. Dixon also rejected a call to seek military help.
‘We are not going down that road. I don’t want to get the army working alongside us. There have been calls for that, and for police from another country.
‘This is a passing phase,’ he said, referring to the increase in crime that Cayman has experienced since Hurricane Ivan, and particularly in the last half year.
‘We will get crime down to levels that are acceptable, and we can still have a pleasant police force. We don’t want to get [overly] aggressive because once you do, you cannot go back.’
Mr. Dixon called on the public to aid crime-fighting efforts by joining neighbourhood committees, using police hotlines to report information and appearing in court to testify.
‘I know we will never get everybody on board to give information and hence we have Crime Stoppers, where you can give information anonymously. I am also creating a new line, outside of the police, where a person can call if they see suspicious activity, and the police will have an immediate response,’ he said.
He said he was creating a scheme to accredit local security guards in which Cayman security companies would participate.
‘Local security companies decided they were going to lay the foundations for this scheme. All members would have to be vetted, would be trained in the use of batons and handcuffs, and in the way to handle the public and deal with aggressive customers, and would get a separate channel to talk to the police,’ Mr. Dixon said.
‘We would brief them on what is happening in any particular area and who to look for, and then we would feed this information into a database.’
Robert Scotland, Detective Inspector and head of the Joint Intelligence Unit, said the scheme could significantly aid police efforts.
‘There are approximately 1,000 security guards, and imagine if we used 50 per cent of them, their eyes and ears,’ he said.
Mr. Dixon also promised to create a community warden programme in which police would designate a community figure to liaise with local residents.
‘We’ll send people out into the community at a time when the community is back in their homes, and they can sit and talk with him, addressing their needs,’ Mr. Dixon said.
‘He can come out and look after things that perhaps don’t need the police but that a community warden can address.’
For example, he said, if there is an area where loud music is being played or addicts are gathering, a warden can solicit the support of neighbours and local businesses, then work to move the offending activities.
‘I think we can bring this island back to where it was years ago in terms of crime,’ Mr. Dixon said. ‘We can reduce crime in this country when we get the resources we are told we will get from the government. We will bring it back in a relatively short time.’