Police ready for storms

Deputy Commissioner Rudi Dixon has a message for the Cayman Islands: The Royal Cayman Islands Police Services is fully prepared for the 2006 Hurricane Season, which begins today.

Mr. Dixon admitted mistakes were made after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, but ‘We’re ready this time.’

Before any storm hits, Mr. Dixon said, the Police Services’ first priority is securing the welfare and safety of officers and their families.

Mr. Dixon said the police service has a comprehensive plan outlined to deal not only with storm preparedness, but more importantly, dealing with the aftermath of a major hurricane hit.

‘The island has been divided into sectors, and officers have been allocated to specific areas around the island. Ivan taught us the importance of officers knowing beforehand where their assigned areas are, and this time the response will be immediate.’

Mr. Dixon said officers have been briefed and prepared to effectively respond to emergency situations that may arise.

The RCIPS also has an army of volunteers and special constables on hand. They will be undergoing training later this month on their roles and responsibilities in the event of a major hurricane.

Access to working vehicles is another key consideration. The RCIPS has plans to house their vehicle fleet in designated areas for safekeeping. ‘We need those vehicles to be in as good condition as possible once the storm passes,’ said Mr. Dixon.

Ivan also showed the RCIPS the importance of secure alternate command posts. During Ivan, the command post had to move twice due to inadequately secure facilities. This year, the RCIPS is prepared for just about any eventuality.

Post-hurricane assistance from other agencies led to a few misunderstandings in the past. ‘Now, the internal and external agencies we may be dealing with have a clear understanding of what is expected of them,’ Mr. Dixon said.

On the regional scale, Memorandums of Understanding are in place with other Overseas Territories and the British Navy ship, which patrols the Caribbean during hurricane season. After Ivan, policing aid was slow or non-existent from certain agencies because it was not officially mandated. Now roles are clearly defined if the need for external aid arises.

In the Cayman Islands, this means that certain key locations housing strategic supplies like food and fuel will be vigilantly monitored and guarded.

Mr. Dixon said that the government has an effective silver and gold command and control system in place in which the RCIP plays a key part.

‘Silver represents a commitment to meeting immediate operational needs on the ground, and gold refers to the strategic planning side of managing the post-hurricane response over the longer term.’

This hurricane season, said Mr. Dixon, the public will notice a highly visible police presence, in contrast to what was seen after Ivan.

‘Our officers will be out there in full force and the public will be able to spot them,’ he has assured the Compass.

The RCIPS is also looking at new emergency powers they can use to maintain law and order.

‘I want to assure the public that the police are prepared and will be ready to ensure public safety,’ said Mr. Dixon.

‘And I want to warn all the would-be criminals out there who are thinking they might like to profit from a disaster situation. The police will be stringently enforcing the law and cracking down hard.’

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