The next time police hold a meeting in East End, they should arrange chairs in a circle and not sit behind tables that create an ‘us and them’ atmosphere.
That suggestion was offered by youth worker James Myles, who was one of several people who did not hesitate to speak their minds on Monday night in the district United Church hall.
Former police officer Dave McLaughlin expressed concern about drug use in a particular area and had a constructive criticism. ‘Police drive by and don’t roll down their window. If they did, they would smell the ganja,’ he said.
During his time with the department, police did things to discourage people from hanging around in certain area, he added.
Ms Marvelle McLaughlin took the idea a step further. ‘You have a lot of police cars going through the district, but not enough officers getting out of the car,’ she told Acting Commissioner James Smith.
Ms Mary Bodden asked if there is a law about police using pepper spray, including on women. Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis said the law does allow officers to use the spray in circumstances where persons are resisting arrest or when the officer feels threatened.
Ms Bodden told the senior officers they have a nice police force, but there were a few members who were ‘too feisty, too fresh and presumptuous. They have to carry out the law the right way.’
‘There’s too much foreigners in the police,’ Mr. James Moore told Mr. Smith. ‘You need to get Caymanians back in the force. The foreign police are stepping on the Caymanians and pushing them out.’
Mr. Smith later reiterated the position he has stated at other district meetings – he wanted the best persons for the job, wherever they were from. ‘What matters to me is they have passion about policing,’ he said. Mr. Edney McLean got approval from the more than two dozen people present when he told Mr. Smith, ‘You remind me of Obama. You inherited a lot of stuff that’s tough to deal with.’
Community Development Officer Delmira Bodden asked Mr. Smith to clarify his position on guns.
He distinguished between his personal view and his position as Commissioner. Personally, he did not understand why some people want a gun. As Commissioner, he wanted to make sure people have guns lawfully and use them lawfully.
In the past, he said, checks have revealed that a lawfully held gun was in fact missing or had been stored with ammunition in it. Both situations could have disastrous consequences, he indicated.
Asked about gun-related crime, he said quite often a firearm is not recovered, but bullets are. Maybe police should fire every gun on the island to get a signature bullet, he suggested – referring to the unique rifling mark made as a bullet travels through a gun barrel.
Miss Marvelle complained about the time and inconvenience involved in getting a police clearance record. Mr. Smith said she was right. He revealed that he had asked his officers to bring together all the licensing issues.
Minister for Works Arden McLean, who is the district MLA, told Mr. Smith he would be getting more space because a contract had been signed the previous Friday to build the vehicle licensing facility at the Lions Centre. He estimated a timeframe of nine months to a year.
Two people complained about drivers being pulled over when they hadn’t done anything wrong. One man said the officer told him it was a routine check, but it took so long it made him late to where he was going. When he phoned Bodden town and then George Town to complain, he could not get through to anybody.
Mr. Smith said what troubled him about that incident was that nobody was available to take the complaint. He said he would speak about it to Area Commander Richard Barrow, who also took part in the meeting.