Sections of the Cayman Islands’ main police station in George Town will close over the next month to allow for structural repairs to the building, which sustained major damage in Hurricane Ivan three years ago.
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officials said certain offices in the building would move to neighbouring Elizabethan Square, but public services including the criminal records office, the station’s front desk, and its temporary holding facility for prisoners will stay in the building while work is completed.
Visitors to the main reception area may notice some disruption, but all front desk services and telephones will remain operational according to police. Construction is set to begin on Monday, 29 October.
The structural renovations are budgeted at $350,000 and are expected to be finished by late November or early December.
The work involves installing steel beams to reinforce concrete slabs on the first and second floors of the police station. Engineers had discovered some deterioration of the composite deck floor system in the months after Ivan and indicated some work was needed to maintain the building’s safety.
RCIPS commanders and senior staff were unable to use the building as a central headquarters for operations as Hurricane Dean approached Cayman in August. Most RCIPS staff in the George Town area relocated to a building near the airport. Only a skeleton crew was kept at the police station at the height of the storm.
Once the renovations are done, Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon said he’s been informed officers will be able to operate normally out of the George Town station during a Category 3 or even a Category 4 storm.
Mr. Dixon is sceptical about that claim.
‘We’ve been told that repairs would sustain a Category 3, Category 4 hurricane,’ he said. ‘But to say that would be the case would, in my humble opinion…be overreaching.’
‘We’re repairing; we’re not building a structure. So it’s difficult to put a rating on it once…you’re not starting from the ground, as I understand it.’
In any case, Mr. Dixon said decisions to move police emergency operations out of the George Town station would be made on a case-by-case basis.
‘We’ve got an alternate location to go to, which is a Category 5 rating,’ he said. ‘If a hurricane is coming and it’s a Category 5, a decision would be made at that particular time whether or not we stay.’
Mr. Dixon said repairs to the police station should make the building structurally stronger than it was before Ivan struck.