Premier backs special police team

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush
is urging the country’s UK-appointed governor and police commissioner to recruit
a special police operations team from outside the Islands
to help local police deal with a recent surge in violent crime.

“I have called for this publicly
and (in) private on several occasions and with the new commissioner in place
and a new governor, I feel confident that this will be addressed with urgency,”
Mr. Bush said in a prepared statement released on his behalf by Tower Marketing
earlier this week.

“This must be done to restore this
country to the levels of safety that we have enjoyed for most of our modern
history,” the premier said. “This government has provided everything that we
have been asked for in terms of resources and we will continue to do so.”

Mr. Bush’s comments came the day
after four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes was shot to death outside a West Bay gas
station, the victim of an apparent ambush by gunmen targeting his family.

Royal Cayman Islands Police
Commissioner David Baines was recently asked about bringing a specialist team
at a Chamber of Commerce event held at the Marriott Beach Resort.

“There have been a number of
requests…if I can put it that way…that we need to bring in a fantastic, super,
see-all, mega-team that can come in and clean up our streets,” said Chamber
President Stuart Bostock at the 10 February meeting.

Mr. Bostock asked the commissioner
if he felt he would have adequate resources in place, once a department
staffing shortage of roughly 50 officers was filled, or if he would need an
additional special police team.

“Fancy teams are great, so long as
they’re clearly briefed, clearly directed and operating to the best
intelligence,” Mr. Baines said. “If you’ve no intelligence and the public
aren’t speaking to you, it doesn’t matter.”

Mr. Baines admitted that is essentially
the situation the RCIPS is facing today.

“You’re going to say ‘we’re going
to have burglaries, robberies or shootings in this area and we’re working to
stop it’. That’s basically what we’re doing now,” he told the Chamber audience.
“Because of the grey nature of the information we’ve been provided (in some
criminal cases), we’ve had to focus on disruption activities.”

However, the commissioner has
previously spoken of plans to bring in a number of veteran foreign police
officers to staff investigative and evidence processing positions, as well as
the department’s new anti-corruption unit – which was supposed to be in place
by January.

Premier Bush said he realised that
certain measures haven’t occurred as quickly as they might have with Governor
Duncan Taylor’s arrival coming just a month ago. He asked the public to give
Mr. Baines and Governor Taylor a chance to deal effectively with the crime
issue.

In the meantime, the premier urged
residents to do what they could to assist the police.

“Let’s not make it any easier for
criminal elements to operate within our community by being silent,” Mr. Bush
said.

Cayman’s elected government does
not have direct control over police operations under the newly approved
Constitution with the UK,
which took effect on 6 November. However, the governing document did create a
National Security Council in which the premier and opposition party leader can
participate and advise the governor and police commissioner on law enforcement
matters.

“We will continue to pursue long-term,
holistic strategies to ensure that our communities remain safe,” Mr. Bush said.

An emergency Cabinet meeting will
be held this morning to discuss legislation that would allow court witnesses to
provide testimony anonymously through the use of voice-altering technology.
Governor Taylor said he hoped the proposal would be brought before the Legislative
Assembly at its meeting next week.

In addition, police have pushed for
the establishment of an updated Police Law in the Cayman Islands.
That law, among other things, would allow a negative inference to be drawn in
court if a suspect refused to answer questions during a police interview.

A draft of the
revised Police Bill (2008) was released to the public more than a year ago, but
was never acted upon in the assembly. The most recently revised proposal has
not been made available.

1 COMMENT

  1. Does anyone remember what happened the last time a “special police operations team” from abroad was hired? Only this time we talking a bunch of people with guns. An updated Police law would help and the legislation for the voice altering technology is a good idea but you must be able to assure witnesses that only a judge and the person or officer who they gave evidence to are the only people who know their identity, or people will still not want to talk. Hire within the staff now on the force and train them properly for the jobs you need them for. Then if necessary hire additional staff to fill the vacancies these officers leave. This will give jobs to Caymanians and fill the ranks with officers that know the islands and people. Oh and perhaps save the island any more scandals and a few dollars too.

  2. Lets do simple math. Grand Cayman population is roughly 50,000. Expats and their families-about 20,000.I am sure 99% of them are decent people. That leaves 30,000 locals, one half of them are women, and another half are children. That boils down to about 5000-7000 people. Majority of them are honorable law abiding citizens. How hard it is to figure out who are the criminals committing heinous crimes? Local police needs professionals who will find those criminals by using intelligence and modern technology not physical presence. And even a third grader will probably figure out that if crime happened in one place, that doesn’t mean it is going to happen in the same place again and that criminals are always 3 steps ahead of police actions. While road blocks are helpful in maintaining order and enforce traffic and other rules, especially on weekends and holidays, they are useless in nailing down criminals. This island needs intelligent help from outside.

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