Legislators from all sides of the
political spectrum advocated arming more police officers and were heavily
critical Tuesday of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s weapons policy.
One lawmaker, North Side’s Ezzard Miller, even threatened not to support the
RCIPS budget unless that policy is changed.
Currently, the police service
maintains a certain number of armed officers in its Uniform Support Group for each
patrol shift. However, there are typically just four officers with weapons
available to cover Grand Cayman during any shift. More can be called up if
necessary. Deputy Police Commissioner
Stephen Brougham said the RCIPS is looking at increasing that number, but he
indicated that more officers need to be trained in the proper use of firearms before
they could hit the streets.
Mr. Miller said the failure to have
weapons kept in all police cars allowed the suspects from a recent petrol
station robbery in Bodden Town to temporarily escape from officers.
Mr. Miller inferred that the
officers who initially responded while the Mostyn’s Esso robbery was in
progress had to wait outside and follow the suspects after they had committed
“It’s my understanding that’s what
happened in the most recent incident in Bodden Town,” Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Brougham confirmed this was
consistent with RCIPS policy.
“They would be told to sit at a
cordon point,” he said.
“And watch the guy run off into the
bushes?” Mr. Miller asked.
When firearms crimes are committed
in Grand Cayman’s less populated eastern districts, Mr. Miller said it was
unlikely that an armed patrol unit would be in the area immediately.
“With our limited resources we have
to concentrate on the areas where these crimes occur,” Mr. Brougham said.
“This situation isn’t acceptable,”
West Bay Member of the Legislative Assembly Cline Glidden Jr. said. “One set of
armed officers anywhere in the Islands is not sufficient.”
Mr. Brougham said Commissioner
David Baines – who did not attend the meeting of Legislative Assembly’s Finance
Committee on Tuesday because he was off island – has been reviewing the police
firearms response policy. He said a further 24 armed officers would be trained,
but how they are to be deployed wasn’t certain.
“I’m about fed up of hearing we
can’t get resources to patrol our district (referring to North Side) 24-7,” Mr.
Miller said. “[Police] are out-matched and they know it.
“Somehow this country has to get
back to a position where the criminals fear the police.”
Mr. Baines has said many times that
he does not wish to arm all RCIPS officers for fear that individuals in the
community would begin to view them as an occupation force and refuse to speak
with them or give them assistance in criminal investigations.
Mr. Miller said he wanted a
commitment from the police commissioner that the policy would be changed or he
“would do the unthinkable” and vote against the police budget.
“That won’t get us anywhere,”
Premier McKeeva Bush said.
Mr. Brougham assured lawmakers that
Cayman is patrolled round the clock by police officers, but that the policy of
all firearms being held centrally is still in place. He also noted that since
the recent spate of robberies, armed police patrols have increased on Grand
Mr. Glidden lamented the fact that
elected members of the Legislative Assembly do not have direct control over the
police service. Under Cayman’s Constitution, the appointed governor has
ultimate responsibility for law enforcement.
“I’m tired of getting blamed for
constantly not doing enough to assist the police and then being told about a
policy we have no knowledge of,” he said.