Police restrict press communications

The Royal Cayman Islands
Police Service last week changed the way it provides information about crimes
and other significant incidents to the public and the press.

According to the new
RCIPS policy, information about crimes or other major events that occur outside
of normal business hours will be provided only between 8.30am and 5pm on
weekdays, hours when the department’s press
liaison is working.

For the last several
months, RCIPS had directed after-hours press calls to the on-duty inspector at
George Town Police Station. Those inspectors were also proactively emailing
press releases to media contacts on various incidents.

Prior to the
implementation of that system, the press liaison office – essentially a
one-person operation – was fielding all media calls at all hours.

“The decision to issue
information to the media during normal working hours has not been taken
lightly,” read a statement issued Thursday by RCIPS spokesperson Janet Dougall.
“It has been taken to ensure that we only issue information at the right time;
when all of the facts surrounding any incident have been verified.”

The statement also added
that all efforts would be taken to comply with the “wishes of the (crime)
victim and in line with our duty to victim care”.

The Caymanian Compass
contacted managers at the TV station, Radio Cayman, Rooster FM and online
Cayman News Service. All of those organisations stated they had not been
consulted by the police service prior to the change in policy.

The Compass was not
contacted, either; it was told about the change in policy informally last
Monday by a police inspector.

“We in the RCIPS value
our relationship with the media,” said the statement issued by the police on
Thursday. 

On certain occasions –
depending on the incident – information about crimes will be given outside of
business hours.

“That decision will be
made on a case-by-case basis,”
Mrs. Dougall said.

Although the RCIPS
statement did not specifically note this, it was understood that some crime
scene information that gets out immediately following an event is not always
100 per cent accurate. Also, most RCIPS inspectors and sergeants do not have
any particular experience or training in public relations or media
communications.

Mrs. Dougall said there
was no particular concern about those officers releasing incorrect information.
However, she said issues concerning what information should or should not be
released sometimes become a bone of contention after the fact.

“The decision about the
timing of any release is based on the needs of the investigation as well as the
accuracy and the appropriateness of the information available,” she said.

When the usual media
liaison is not available, RCIPS Business Manager Peter Davis will fill that
role, police said.

The police service
earlier this year decided it would not release the names of individuals who
have been charged with crimes. Those suspects are normally identified in court.

Law enforcement
officials did meet with media representatives to discuss identification and
photographing of suspects who come before the court. However, according to
representatives who attend that meeting, there was no discussion or agreement
with police about no longer naming those individuals.

Robbery reports delayed

Two restaurants were hit
by robbers Thursday night, according to reports from witnesses, which the Royal
Cayman Islands Police Service confirmed some 16 hours after the incidents.

The first robbery was
reported around 6.20pm Thursday at the Domino’s Pizza on Mary Street, George
Town.

According to witness
reports, the robbers got away with some cash after threatening store workers.

On Wednesday, two
suspects – one of them armed – had attempted to rob the store but were foiled
by the restaurant’s security system.

It was not immediately
clear if the same suspects were involved in both the Wednesday and Thursday
crimes at Domino’s, but a similar description of suspects was given in both
cases.

Shortly after the
Domino’s heist, a car believed to have been used by the suspects was recovered
on Eastern Avenue. Police said it had been stolen from the Cayman Islands
Hospital parking lot Thursday morning. 

Another robbery on
Thursday was reported at Alfresco restaurant in West Bay around 8pm.

According to sources who
spoke to the Caymanian Compass on condition of anonymity, two customers and a
chef inside the restaurant were robbed.

Both suspects were
armed, and according to witnesses, they were described as being about 5’10”
with slim builds; one with a fair complexion, one with a dark complexion. Both
covered their faces with shirts.

It was not known if the
two robberies on Thursday were connected. No arrests had been reported by press
time.

1 COMMENT

  1. Dumb move.

    Lack of information only prompts rumour and speculation.

    I find it very odd that an experienced UK police officer is ignoring all the lessons learnt over here about efficient media relations, particularly when he seems intent on importing many other operational changes.

    Stuart Kernohan recognised that the press officer job was an essential 24/7 function of police work. He even made plans (blocked after his removal) to recruit a second press officer. I wonder what has changed?

    The only consolation for the media is that they can no longer be blamed if stories come out wrong. LOL!

  2. Might I add that RCIP shuld change the way they handle their internal affairs as well.

    If an officer has a disciplinary problem we don’t need to know about it. Deal with him in the arbitrary provisions of the Internal Affairs Division. Not the public. if the public judges them or the ‘comissioner, I guarantee you NONE OF YOU WILL GET A FAIR TRIAL!
    So keep your problems at home.

    Stay Clean and fresh and smelling good when we meet with you outside.

    No need to wash your dirty linen publicly anymore as it stands only our CAYMANIAN OFFICERS SEEM TO GET THE BAD END OF EVERY STICK HELD TO THEIR NECKS!
    not a fair chance on their side so Baines change your ways we want to look up to our RCIP, not look down on them, we want to work with them but if you are beating them with a stick on their backs 24 hours a day with this Investigation and that Investigation. It further reduces confidence of the people in the RCIP and sends a message of political and economic instability.
    We’re tired of this nonsense.
    Please stop destroying our country.

  3. Its beginning to look like the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is coming under the control of the local government more each day.

    Does this move not reflect the attitude of the current government ?

    They might as well remove the title ‘Royal’ from their name and call the organization the Cayman Islands Police Service because there is very little that defines the organization as a British territorial police force apart from having a British national as Commissioner.

    I’m not knocking the RCIPS; their job is a difficult enough one as it is but the organization seems to becoming less professional and effective just when the opposite needs to be happening.

    Can the majority of the residents of the Cayman Islands really say that they are happy with the service their police are now providing ?

    What continues to puzzle me is that armed robberies have been a part of the Cayman scene now since the 90s and have proliferated at an alarming rate but not one armed robbery has ever been foiled by the police when its going down; not one, to my memory.

    If the Caymanian police were actively patrolling to catch these bandits, they would catch some of them in the act.

    The residents of Cayman need to raise this question very seriously because something is not right with this picture.

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