Police go grassroots

Police capped off a six-month effort to get officers back into Cayman Islands communities last week by announcing a neighbourhood policing programme is now at full force.

At least one Royal Cayman Islands police officer has been assigned to each of 23 neighbourhood policing districts identified by the department. The districts include Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac.

Their mission is to establish and maintain contact with the areas they serve and help involve residents in plans to reduce neighbourhood crimes such as burglary, drug dealing and the like.

‘What neighbourhood policing is all about is sitting on the same side of the table with various individuals who have the concerns, really understand what the concerns are, and then doing something about it,’ said RCIPS Chief Inspector Marlon Bodden.

Mr. Bodden, who oversees the programme, said the move toward neighbourhood policing is a more proactive approach to law enforcement which identifies officers as problem solvers instead of uniforms that simply react after crimes have been committed.

A total of 26 officers, including two sergeants and a police inspector, have been assigned to the program. Individual officers may serve one or several neighbourhoods, depending on demand. Mr. Bodden said highly-populated areas like George Town and West Bay have more officers assigned to specific communities.

‘You have a dedicated beat that has an officer who has a name. That is an easier way than to have different officers come to that environment; ‘you don’t know me, I don’t know you’ and there’s that natural gap in between the communication.’

RCIPS acknowledges each neighbourhood beat won’t be filled every day if those officers are needed to respond to emergency calls, are in training, or are on leave. However, he said other officers will step in to help out.

Police caution residents that the results of neighbourhood policing may not be seen right away. Mr. Bodden said community meetings have already been held in most of the districts to introduce each area to its officer to help speed the process along.