All scheduled leave for Royal Cayman Islands Police officers has been cancelled ahead of Gustav’s projected arrival.
The Cayman Islands police and fire services have both great power and great responsibility in the event a hurricane strikes the islands.
As well as general policing duties, officers with the RCIPS are stationed in hurricane shelters to keep watch. After the storm hits, they’re required to provide policing coverage for key locations like grocery stores, gas stations, water supplies and communications infrastructure.
RCIPS may also be given the ability under the Emergency Powers Law or Police Law (2004 Amendment) to establish curfews and set up stop and search roadblocks.
Any curfew order would be issued by the police commissioner in consultation with the governor.
If a curfew is imposed, motorists can expect to have their cars searched, and could face arrest if they are out after curfew.
Police will also provide enhanced security at prisons, Owen Roberts International Airport, the George Town Hospital, and Citrus Grove where 911 Emergency Communications are located.
Although it had not been ordered by press time, officers will be assigned to work in two 12-hour shifts as needed until the Emergency Operations Centre stands down.
Under the hurricane plan, additional officers are also being sent to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac in preparation for a hurricane.
The Cayman Islands Fire Service will respond to rescue people who’ve stayed in their homes through the storm, or who sheltered in buildings that sustained major damage.
Both the police and fire services will coordinate search and rescue efforts from a command post at the Emergency Operations Centre. Other government departments may be brought in as needed to assist including the Port Authority, Health Services, and the Airport Authority.
RCIPS officers can order residents to leave areas that are determined to be unsafe, if the governor has declared that area must be evacuated. Those who enter evacuated areas without authorisation could face prison sentences, if convicted.
Phone calls to 911 will be answered at all times, however police note that emergency crews often will not be able to come out at the height of a storm. Emergency calls received when it is unsafe to travel will be noted for action when conditions have improved.