Don’t want to report the person? Report the gun

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Anonymous tips to Cayman Crime
Stoppers aren’t just for reporting criminals anymore.

You can report the location of guns
and drugs as well, according to managers with the tip line service.

Police Commissioner David Baines
suggested reporting weapons to a group of West Bay residents who gathered Monday
at John Cumber Primary School to discuss issues of crime and public safety with
members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The ability to report the location
of weapons or drugs has been available to crime stoppers callers for some time,
but group chairman Eric Bush said that may not be well known to the community.

“Actually, it has happened within
the past three months and a firearm was recovered,” Mr. Bush said, referring an
anonymous tip call to the Cayman Crime Stoppers secure 800-8477 phone line in
Florida.

The caller to that tip line is
given a code number which they can use to call back and check on whether their
information led to any findings. A reward of up to $1,000 is available if the
information pans out.

Callers are never asked to give
their names, and steps are taken to protect tipsters from other possible means
of identification.

“If they find (the weapon), police
report that success back to the law enforcement coordinator who uploads the
result in the Crime Stoppers programme,” Mr. Bush said. “The caller, if they
wanted to call back for the reward, they would call back and say ‘my code
number is 1234, am I eligible for a reward?’ and the operator in Miami would
see that the tip led to a success.”

The Cayman Crime Stoppers Board of
Directors has the final say on whether rewards are issued.

There are limits to how the Crime
Stoppers tips can be used in regard to finding weapons.

Anonymous calls alone cannot be
used as evidence in court or for police to raid someone’s house.

However, if the tip area is a
public place, such as a beach or bush land, police can go and search it.

“If it is something (located in a
home), they would require a search warrant,” Mr. Bush said. “They would have to
satisfy those requirements of either the justice of the peace or magistrates or
the judge.”

Commissioner Baines has made
removing illegal firearms from Cayman’s streets a top priority. Earlier this
year he reported that 26 weapons, including shotguns and handguns, had been
seized as part of a gun amnesty programme.

The month-long amnesty led to the
surrender of other weapons or imitation weapons, including rifles, flare guns,
bows and arrows, a crossbow, a taser, detonators and a grenade.

Some 233 rounds of ammunition were
also given up by the public.

“The figures speak for themselves,”
said Commissioner Baines.

“These weapons, and the ammunition,
surrendered as part of the amnesty could, if they got into the wrong hands,
kill. Let’s be in no doubt about that.

Twenty-six guns taken off the
streets could effectively equate to a minimum of 26 lives saved.”

Police and Crime Stoppers are offering
a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and subsequent conviction
of anyone who holds an illegal or unlicensed weapon, or who is involved in gun
crime.

TOPCrimeStoppersSTORY

RCIPS Superintendent Marlon Bodden dis-plays a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with its serial number filed off. It was one of 26 weapons recovered during the amnesty period.
Photo: Brent Fuller
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