Acting Police Commissioner James Smith is making no apologies for his hard-line attitude toward guns in Cayman.
Speaking at a community policing meeting in Bodden Town Monday night, Mr. Smith stood by his planned review of all gun licenses to ensure they are in the hands of appropriate people and that guns are being used and stored properly.
Mr. Smith said he is taking a strong stance because, as Commissioner of Police, ultimate responsibility for licensing firearms falls to him.
‘When things go wrong with licensed firearms – and they do – then people in this community may rightly point the finger at the police commissioner that granted the license in the first place,’ he said. ‘Therefore, I need to be sure that anyone that has a gun on this Island is going to look after it in a safe and proper way.’
Responding to a question from the audience, Mr. Smith agreed that licensed firearms have not been linked to recent murders in Cayman but added that there is no reason to think licensed guns aren’t used for crime.
‘I cite to you the cases that we have all seen in universities across America, I would cite the Hungerford massacre in England and I would cite the murder of innocent children in Scotland by a licensed firearm,’ he said. ‘Because it hasn’t happened, it doesn’t mean that it won’t.’
One resident pointed out that farmers in Cayman have used licensed guns to shoot agouti and kill cattle but Mr. Smith questioned whether a full powered rifle is needed for these tasks. He pointed out that that rabbit can be killed with pellet guns, traps and with poison and that cattle can be killed with captive bolts (handheld weapons used for euthanasia of large animals).
‘Are they wearing Kevlar?’ Mr. Smith said of the supposed need for guns to kill agouti. ‘I am not, as an individual, convinced about the need to have the amount of firearms that people tell me they require on this Island.’
Top cop job
Mr. Smith sidestepped a question from the audience about whether he has applied for the permanent police commissioner job after applications for the position closed Monday.
‘I think you should wait and see what happens after next week,’ he said, before giving an upbeat assessment of the challenges ahead for the RCIPS.
‘Are there good things happening? Is there more that could be done? Yes, all of that,’ he said. ‘But I don’t see a country that is in dire straits. Of course, the country has issues and it has some criminality and criminals that need to be put in the right place.
‘But you have a really great bunch of people trying to keep law and order on the Island and I’m really, really proud to be here, however long that is,’ he said. ‘There is nothing that can’t be fixed on this Island.’
Drugs Task Force
Top commanders at the meeting were also asked about the state of Cayman’s Drugs Taskforce, after recent claims that officers had been taken away from drug policing to protect Attorney General Sam Bulgin following a botched home invasion at his Patrick Island home in 2004.
Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis admitted officers from a range of beats, including the taskforce, were diverted toward providing protection following the so-called Patrick Islands incident, but be insisted the taskforce is now back in full-swing.
‘The DTF is now fully back up to strength and fully operational. If there are any other securities operations that are taking place it doesn’t impact on the DTF,’ he said.
Crime down in BT
Residents at the meeting expressed concern about abandoned vehicles, speeding cars and derelict buildings being used as drug houses, but there was also acknowledgement that the police are doing a good job of keeping crime under control in the district.
‘We are very happy with the work your officers are doing in Bodden Town. It has quieted down quite a lot,’ resident Twyla Vargas said.