The Commandant of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Special Constabulary is seeking to double the number of people who work as volunteer police on the islands.
Commandant Richard Harris said last week that about 65 people are listed as active members of the constabulary. He’d like that number to be around 120.
Mr. Harris said there’s a particular shortage of resident volunteers in the West Bay area and in the Eastern Districts.
‘The Commissioner is keen to get them involved in neighbourhood policing,’ he said.
Special constables are not paid. Any residents who’ve been on island for at least two years are free to apply for a position, although those with prior law enforcement experience likely wouldn’t be held to the two year requirement.
Those seeking a position must meet certain criteria and also have to take a 12 week course, which consists of about three to four hours of training per week.
The constables are generally used for duties such as traffic management or desk work. However, Mr. Harris said some actually go on patrol with RCIPS officers if they are determined to be capable.
He said he’d like to grow the ranks of the constabulary as soon as possible.
‘But it’s about quality, not necessarily quantity,’ Mr. Harris said. ‘It’s not something we expect to achieve overnight.’
The ranks of the Special Constabulary were thinned earlier this year when its office sent letters seeking the resignation of 14 volunteers who were considered inactive members.
A regular duty special constable is required to work at least 12 hours per month on various assignments and is given some leeway on when to report for duty.
Mr. Harris said that rule was relaxed in the 15 months following Hurricane Ivan, which hit Cayman in September 2004. However, he said his office sent out reminders twice in the past 18 months that it was time to get back in business.
‘The ones that were let go were people that, despite having received these notifications….have either put in zero, or maybe one or two hours in 18 months,’ Mr. Harris said.
‘They weren’t holding up their end of things. We want to be dealing with people who want to be responsive.’
Mr. Harris said the RCIPS is trying to develop a system that would allow certain constables to work less; only be called in for special events such as the Batabano Parade, for example. However, he said those volunteers would have less choice on when they work, and would have to accept at least 50 per cent of the assignments given to them within a year.