Chief, Chamber address crime fear

Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines recently warned Cayman Islands residents not to let their fears about crime overshadow reality.

‘Recently…the psychology of the public has led people to think that every time they see a blue light or a police cordon go up that something dreadful has happened,’ Mr. Baines told Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce members during last week’s luncheon at the Grand Cayman Marriott.

The commissioner was referring to an oil spill on 24 September along North Sound Road that was apparently interpreted as an armed robbery of a nearby store.

‘Within 15 minutes I was getting phone calls about ‘has Reflections been robbed?” Mr. Baines said. ‘This wasn’t a single call. This was 20-plus calls coming into different members of our organisation. People were only too willing to put their fear and perception into the reality of a police cordon.’

Mr. Baines said he’s got reams of advice on the subject of how to reduce crime in Cayman since taking up his new post on 1 June.

‘The advice has been quite revealing,’ he said. ‘There was a query about ‘would the helicopter be equipped with machine guns?’ so that when you had to address (drug) canoes in the sea you wouldn’t need the marine unit to go up and collect what was left.’

‘Certainly, extra-judicial killings will not be any part…of the RCIPS.’

The commissioner reasserted his commitment that rank-and-file police officers in Cayman remain unarmed, but said he would look at increasing the ranks of the RCIPS Uniform Support Group if armed police couldn’t respond to crime scenes quickly.

Chamber of Commerce President Stuart Bostock said local business leaders would present a report to Governor Stuart Jack identifying a number of crime fighting measures the Chamber would support.

Mr. Bostock said that leadership changes at RCIPS and corresponding corruption investigations have sidetracked the work of police over the last few years.

‘It is now time to move beyond these investigations,’ Mr. Bostock told the group.

Chamber members recently told the commissioner they supported dusting off proposals for a closed circuit TV surveillance network for public locations on Grand Cayman. Mr. Bostock suggested that a Chamber committee be formed to address public safety issues.

Echoing comments made earlier this year by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush, Mr. Bostock suggested that an anti-organised crime unit be utilised for law enforcement training purposes and urged the quick formation of the National Security Council created under Cayman’s new constitution.

Chamber members also asked government to review current gun laws.

‘We should immediately seek to introduce a Gun Crime Act, which would serve to reduce the reliance on witnesses who are so often intimidated out of giving evidence,’ Mr. Bostock said. ‘Surely, easing our existing restrictions of legal firearm ownership and allowing all the right to carry arms cannot be the answer to our problems. But new legislation to deal with historically unseen criminal activity is the appropriate direction.’

Mr. Bostock did not provide any specifics about the Chamber’s proposal regarding gun crimes laws.

Mr. Baines suggested during his address that more options be given for judge alone trials, as opposed to trial by jury, in firearms related cases. He has admitted that some gun suspects have recently gone free simply because of problems with police evidence or scared witnesses.