Police are prepared for hurricanes

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has an extensive plan in place as part of the 2006 Cayman National Hurricane Plan, Governor Stuart Jack said recently.

For matters of security, some of that plan will not be made public ‘to keep it from the eyes of potential criminals,’ Mr. Jack said.

Ensuring that police are prepared to provide the required response after a hurricane

One of the most important aspects of the 2006 Cayman National Hurricane Plan is ensuring that police are prepared to provide the required response after a hurricane. Photo: File

However, other parts of the plan have now been published in the section of the National Hurricane Plan called Security and Law Enforcement.

One of the important aspects of the plan is ensuring the RCIPS is prepared to provide the required response after a hurricane.

By placing officers in shelters and at other identified key locations before the storm hits, it will ensure the RCIPS can provide adequate widespread coverage in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

The RCIPS will provide special coverage for wholesale and retail food stores, water suppliers, gasoline and propane suppliers, and the communication infrastructure providers. There will also be enhanced security at the airports, prisons, hospitals and at the Government command centre at Citrus Grove.

After Hurricane Ivan, some of the RCIPS officers did not come to work, Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon confirmed.

‘There were police officers who didn’t show up [to duty],’ he said. ‘Many showed up in one suit of clothing that they wore for days. Some officers didn’t have shoes.’

Mr. Dixon said steps have been taken to ensure officers will be ready for duty after the hurricane in the future.

‘We will put officers in shelters where [devastation] is not likely to happen, with secured uniforms and equipment,’ he said.

In order that RCIPS officers can concentrate on their duties, it is important to make sure they know their families are safe, Commission of Police Stuart Kernohan said.

‘We’ve focused very heavily on the welfare of our officers and their families,’ he said.

Mr. Kernohan said all officers are supposed to have a personal hurricane plan in place for the storm season.

While there will always be reasons why there is not 100 per cent turnout after – like if someone were injured during the storm or if someone were away on holiday – Mr. Kernohan said he was confident the RCIPS would have the numbers to handle the challenge after the hurricane.

‘I expect the turnout to be very high,’ he said, adding that regular police will be supplemented by special constables and volunteers.

Mr. Kernohan said all the roles of senior officers had redundancy back-ups as well.

The chain of command for security and law enforcement in a disaster situation has been established in four sections: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze, with the National Hurricane Committee and offshoot of that command structure.

Platinum is the Governor, who will be situated at Citrus Grove and who will provide direct contact with the United Kingdom Government and assume direct responsibility for internal security matters.

The Gold level has strategic direction over the RCIPS. Located primarily at the Central Police Station in George Town, Gold will also have officers stationed both at Citrus Grove and the Emergency Operations Centre by the airport where the National Hurricane Committee is located. This section reports directly to Platinum.

The Silver section works from the district police stations and has tactical responsibility for the implementation of the policies implemented by Gold.

Finally, the Bronze section works in the field from identified key areas and shelters and reports to Silver.

The National Hurricane Committee has strategic direction over the entire disaster preparedness and response process.

Whenever there is a hurricane warning issued, meaning hurricane-force winds are expected within 24 hours, a service-wide 12-hour shift roster system will be put in place for the RCIPS until the emergency is lifted.

The RCIPS will ensure that all of its vehicles are stored on high ground to avoid the problems created with Hurricane Ivan, when storm surge flooding destroyed many of the police vehicles.

Mr. Kernohan recognised that no matter how good the plan, looting was possible. He warned residents about trying to protect their property.

‘I would not recommend getting involved in an armed conflict to prevent someone from stealing your television from your house,’ he said. ‘In my opinion, it’s not worth getting injured or losing your life trying to protect your property.’