No help in cop shooting

Four officers were in shot up car

Four Royal Cayman Islands Police officers will be thanking their lucky stars this holiday season that they get to spend Christmas Day with their families.

Less than a month ago, the officers were driving down Shedden Road early Saturday morning when bullets pierced their patrol vehicle through the back windshield, grazing one officer in the neck.

That officer, a special constable with the police service, was treated for minor injuries and released. The other three inside the patrol vehicle were unhurt.

That’s the good news.

The bad news from the police perspective is that not one tip has been phoned into the Crime Stoppers operation about the 28 November shooting in George Town.

‘The shots fired at police were non-provoked and set up as if the officers were being ambushed,’ Crime Stoppers Chairman Eric Bush said. ‘The action and intent was to kill the police officers who were on routine patrol.’

‘This was an act of cowardice.’

In the days following reports about the police officer’s shooting, Crime Stoppers received pledges of up to $50,000 from the business community for anyone whose information led to the arrest and conviction of those involved. Crime Stoppers tips are kept strictly anonymous and are answered by call centres located in Florida, USA, and Canada.

Mr. Bush said Crime Stoppers is concerned about the perceived lack of response in connection with the shooting and doesn’t simply want this issue to go away. He and other Crime Stoppers board members are wondering whether the organisation’s message is reaching its intended audience.

The group even went so far this week as to seek advice from members of the local press on how best to garner the public’s cooperation in the most serious criminal cases like the police shooting.

‘There are people in this community who know who are involved…and where the guns are hidden,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘I am hopeful that our community will show that they are against acts of violence and support the police by giving them the information needed.’

Mr. Bush said Crime Stoppers will be exploring new ways of communicating with the public in 2010, including urging the police to release photographs and even video of suspects believed to be involved in criminal activity when it is available and appropriate to do so. He said the organisation would consider using some of the new social media such as Facebook and Twitter to help get its message out.

In relation to the police officer’s shooting on 28 November, Mr. Bush said he hoped to receive Crime Stoppers board approval to increase the available reward. According to its operating rules, Crime Stoppers can only offer up to $1,000 for information in any one case – but additional donations from the private sector can up the ante considerably.

In more than 100 years in Cayman, the police service has never lost an officer in the line of duty.