Customs officers get guns

Customs officers will be allowed to carry guns while on assignment with Royal Cayman Islands Police officers, as long as the police commissioner approves.

Lawmakers who passed the Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2009 agreed Wednesday that the move to arm customs officers was long overdue.

A proposal to allow customs officers who serve in the joint police, customs and immigration marine unit surfaced earlier this year. However, legislators voted to expand the plan to customs officers who attend on-land assignments with RCIPS as well.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller first proposed the change ‘because of the way things are going in the Cayman Islands.’

Opposition Leader Kurt Tibbetts asked for the law to go even further, giving trained customs officers the ability to carry firearms without consulting the police commissioner.

‘There should be no reason why the collector of customs cannot give that permission.’

Mr. Tibbetts cautioned that he did not wish to see untrained customs officers armed, or even most armed; just those placed in dangerous situations.

‘Certainly…no one should be walking around like Buster Crabbe,’ he said.

Eventually, the government did not agree to give the collector of customs sole discretion over whether his officers can carry guns.