Knives taken off cabbies

A police roadblock on 18 November that targeted Grand Cayman’s taxi and bus service drivers recovered several knives and other offensive weapons.

RCIPS Superintendent Kurt Walton

RCIPS Superintendent Kurt Walton with the knives that were taken from local taxi and bus drivers. Photo: Brent Fuller

A total of six knives, a box-cutter and a pair of scissors were seized during the stops and searches of public transit vehicles. A machete was found the previous day during a search of a taxi van on Fort Street in George Town.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Superintendent Kurt Walton said officers had received reports that public transit drivers had begun arming themselves for various reasons.

‘The information was…that there were a lot of tensions among the taxis,’ Mr. Walton said.

Apparently, police said cabbies and bus drivers, concerned about dropping revenues in the current economic downturn, have been getting into scuffles with each other over business. Cayman’s Public Transportation Board brought concerns about the situation to the police, which led to the searches.

Some cab drivers said police tactics during the searches were heavy-handed. They alleged that searches were conducted while tourists were in the cabs, and that police forced those travellers to get out of the public transit vehicles before they conducted their searches.

‘(The law) is clear,’ Mr. Walton said. ‘The driver of a bus or taxi shall not carry firearms or other weapons.’

‘We have taxis who are responsible individuals and considered ambassadors for this island that are driving around with weapons. (Officers) could have proceeded by way of arresting them. The fact that they didn’t do that, I’m confident that inspectors acted in the best interests of the drivers.’

Knives of the sort taken by police are not considered prohibited weapons under Cayman law, such as a firearm would be. However, knives carried in a public vehicle could fall afoul of the Public Passenger Vehicles Law.

Mr. Walton said police hadn’t made a decision on whether to prosecute any of the cabbies or bus drivers who had the weapons taken from them.

Read more about this story in upcoming editions of the Caymanian Compass…