We have all read with utter disbelief recent press reports about serious crimes involving illegal firearms, drugs, burglaries and thefts being committed in our society. These crimes have been directed at both businesses and residences and even at some of the top officials in our Government.
Most of these crimes have been linked to drug related gang activities.
Many of the thugs who commit these crimes live among us and you may even know some personally, but are too frightened to report them to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for fear of retaliation against your family and property.
But the time has come for every resident to take a stand and act to remove these criminal menaces from our society so that we can restore peace and harmony to our beloved Cayman Islands.
Towards this end, the Chamber of Commerce has assembled a national coalition against crime which involves Government, Private Sector, non-governmental organizations and church and community action groups with the specific purpose of rallying the public in a united grassroots network to declare a zero tolerance strategy towards all forms of crime.
A National Rally against Crime will be held on Wednesday, 28 September, at 5 p.m. on the Court House Steps in George Town. You are urged to attend and to show your support.
The crime problem that we are facing did not start yesterday.
Elements of this have been festering.
All too often there have been acquittals in serious crime cases, including several murders and the looting and lawlessness that occurred and went on for too long after Hurricane Ivan seems to have made those with criminal intent much more brazen in their activities.
We have made very honourable and sincere attempts to devise various approaches and solutions, but it appears the situation continues to deteriorate such that the level of very serious crime is alarming and has now been acknowledged as a real threat to our national security.
This is a multi-dimensional problem that needs a multi-faceted approach to solve.
Filling vacancies in the Royal Cayman Islands Police, hiring a new Commissioner of Police with experience in similar tough crime issues, spending $49.3 million on law enforcement improvements over the next three years, establishing a Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force and trying to encourage people to turn in illegal guns in exchange for cash are all commendable initiatives that should help, but won’t be the total solution.
Here are some potential strategies (some of which are currently under consideration and/or implementation by the Government) to address the crime problem:
1. The introduction of a VISA system for all nationals from countries considered high risk.
2. The introduction of a national identification system that mandates fingerprinting for all forms of identification including passports, work permit identification cards, driver’s licenses and students’ identification cards
4. The establishment of a permanent police station on Seven Mile Beach.
5. The expansion of the neighbourhood watch programme to all districts.
6. The introduction of closed circuit television surveillance cameras in busy public areas.
7. The introduction of new legislation to address the gang problem.
8. A revision of the penalties for all firearm offences with the possibility of a life sentence for serious offences and the establishment of a mandatory minimum of seven year sentences for all firearm offences.
9. The revision of the Police Law.
10. The introduction of a state-of-the-art forensic laboratory.
11. The establishment of a properly financed and structured witness protection programme.
12. The accreditation of all private security personnel by the Royal Cayman Islands Police.
13. The introduction of mandatory fingerprinting and photographing of all visitors entering the Cayman Islands at Owen Roberts International and at the Port.
14. The establishment of a national crime prevention network that involves representatives from all government, private sector, non-governmental, community organizations and churches.
15. The introduction of strong public loitering laws with police citations and fines to all parents who leave children unattended under the age of 18 in public places.
16. The introduction of a requirement that all work permit applications must include a DNA sample.
17. The increase in the use of canine patrols at road blocks and in public places.
18. The introduction of regular police functions intended to build awareness and support for the important role of law enforcement officials in our community.
Combating crime must become a national effort that involves each one of us.
We all must become Crime Stoppers. If you see a crime being committed or suspicious activity, you should report these matters immediately to Cayman Crime Stoppers (800 TIPS).
If your tip leads to an arrest, then you are eligible to receive up to $1,000.
Calls are confidential and are not taped or even answered in the Cayman Islands.
The programme wants your information and not your name. You will not be asked to testify in any court case.
We urge everyone in the Cayman Islands to join us on Wednesday, 28 September, at 5pm on the Court House steps as we make a pledge to enforce a zero tolerance strategy against crime in our communities.
Let’s all commit to working together, shoulder to shoulder, to remove all criminal menaces that threaten the national security and the excellent quality of life that we have come to enjoy.
Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce