National identification programme

To most of us it is important that crime is near the top of the agenda.

It hurts us all, and with the rise in violent crime, we are all concerned it may hurt more than just a few dollars going missing.

I applaud the RCIP, Government, and Chamber for making concrete suggestions that can improve the situation, but it is important that the efforts we make now are both effective and not a waste of public and private funds.

We need to evaluate what programs or changes we put in place really help and not just make us feel safe.

This means asking what each action is trying to achieve, and how far it actually goes toward that goal. We should debate on what real effects the programs will have.

In my opinion, a good suggestion falls along the line of establishing new police offices in other districts. The goal is to reduce crime in a specific area. It meets that goal by increasing the number of officers to deal with crime, makes them visible in an area (deterrent) and improves response time to reported crime in that district. A good expenditure for clear results.

What approaches the absurd from my standpoint is the establishment of a national identification system, especially one that includes DNA, or biometric identification. How will this actually reduce crime? I believe it is it more of an effort that makes us feel better. If the goal of the systems is to identify known criminals upon entry to the island then the place to look is not at the local identification, but rather the identification they already have.

Is there an international registrar of “bad guy” DNA somewhere? If there is, will that keep the person from committing a crime here? Chances are many documents from other jurisdictions will be forged by criminals to some degree anyway. The only accurate information will be from the “good guys”.

You may assume that this registry will help catch them afterward, the purpose being to identify persons that may have been at a crime scene. I would challenge you to evaluate the statistics, not based upon TV crime shows that would have us believe that simply breathing at the wrong time and wrong place allows a forensic detective to identify what you had for lunch. Sampling the DNA from your average room would likely reveal upwards of 100 possible persons (or more) that may not include the actual perpetrator.

This national ID system would have the effect of making the residents and visitors to Cayman feel like something is being done about crime but would be a large expenditure for little effect and with an enormous inconvenience factor.

Try telling Mom, Dad, and the two kids they have to stand in line for another 20 minutes while someone collects a scraping of skin, yank out some hair or a throat swab before they can get in the cab to 7 mile; not to mention the thousands from the cruise lines. The criminal will just come ashore with a fake identity through standard means, or via a middle of the night boat drop, neither of which the ID system will help with.

Improvements in our safety can be made. I urge all institutions to choose methods of tackling crime that are effective, a good investment, and one that improves the quality of life here; not degrade it.

It will be tempting for government leaders and the RCIP to choose methods that sound good and make the public feel safe and give the appearance that they are doing something, but have a low effect on crime itself. I’m still amazed that the Americans have allowed themselves to lose more civil liberties since 2001 than ever before in their history and they are probably are not much safer.

Let’s not repeat those mistakes here.