Law breakers looking for a break under the regime of new police commissioner Stuart Kernohan better think again.
‘I am a believer in enforcing the law at all levels,’ he said.
”Minor’ crimes being committed can often be an indicator of someone’s disregard for the law.
‘If you look after the smaller, lesser crimes then it sends out good messages to the public that we are doing our job and taking care of details,’ Mr. Kernohan told the CaymanianCompass on Wednesday.
‘What I am not saying is that we will be operating a zero tolerance approach, because that can potentially alienate members of the public, particularly motorists.
‘What we are trying to do is build confidence rather than alienate individuals,’ he explained.
‘Rather than asking everyone to do everything we will be focusing in on particular areas of concern such as burglaries and more serious crime.
‘But that does not mean we will not have time for the lesser crimes,’ he said.
‘For instance, people speeding in cars might not be considered as important by them but those smaller offences can have serious consequences. People can even get killed.’
Mr. Kernohan, still only in his third week in post after leaving a top job with the police on Merseyside in the UK, has spent his early days in Cayman looking at systems and getting a feel for the Royal Cayman Islands Police.
His first impressions of the RCIP are very positive ones, he said.
‘It’s a small force but well run.
‘Some of the structural issues and processes are not as comprehensive as I would be used to,’ he said.
The Scot stressed the importance of neighbourhood policing.
‘Neighbourhood policing is fundamental in building trust and confidence in communities and that’s a massive issue for any police force,’ he told the Compass.
‘The Cayman Islands is already further ahead in terms of trust and confidence than other forces I have been at,’ he said.
‘My last two forces have been urban forces and it is well recognised that trust and confidence is more difficult to build in those kinds of places,’ he added.
‘The reason why we need trust and confidence is that if we can’t work and co-operate with the communities, then we can’t do our job properly.
‘Without intelligence we can’t take action,’ he explained.
‘There’s much more of a community atmosphere here. The people are more approachable and so the process should be easier,’ he said.
Mr. Kernohan summed up the RCIP’s neighbourhood policy with the phrase, ‘we care, we listen and we act.’
‘But the other side of things is our ability to relentlessly crack down on crime,’ he went on to say.
‘The effort needs to be intelligence led. The community provides us with intelligence and we develop it, and along with crime information and crime statistics, we can start to find hot spot areas that we need to target,’ he said.
‘It’s a structured process that starts with confidence, which gives the intelligence, and that is analysed and put into a tasking, co-ordinating process,’ he added.
‘Compared to the areas I have worked in previously, the serious crime level here is low,’ Mr. Kernohan told the Compass.
‘The reality is that, because it’s a small community that’s not used to this type of crime, even one has a massive impact.
‘But we have to address it even if it is one crime,’ he said.
‘We take the situation very seriously and I am confident this structured approach will have a far greater and longer impact than just quick hits.
‘I am confident in dealing with it. I have to make sure the right structures and systems are in place and the staff knows what’s expected of them.
‘We have got to remember that Cayman has never dealt with some of these crimes before,’ he said.
‘I don’t want the community to think there’s any complacency on our part. It’s the exact opposite. We are determined to do everything we can about it,’ he added.
Asked about finger-pointing that appeared to be going on in some sections of the community when it comes to the subject of who is committing crime, Mr. Kernohan said; ‘I realise the issue of race and crime is a sensitive one.
‘It’s my experience that races don’t commit crime, criminals do,’ he said.
‘We are not in the business of racially profiling individuals. We are interested in targeting criminals from whatever race and background they come from,’ he added.
Mr. Kernohan said the RCIP is expected to be at full strength by the end of the year.
‘Now that we are nearly at full strength we will have more officers out on the street in all kinds of patrols, and that should reassure the public that we are out there and available to respond,’ he told the Compass.
‘I am delighted to be here. Some things do need to be changed but it’s a good force with some really great people.
‘I hope I can help the RCIP improve the way they approach all their challenges,’ he said.