Once a young person starts down the path of crime, it can be hard for them to pull themselves out. Some young Caymanians have been able to do it, but others worry about the younger generation’s chances of doing the same.
Other stories in Compass Point: Crime
Collin Anglin might fairly be described as a superstar.
He’s the past recipient of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award. At age 32, he’s director at the Department of Sports. He’s played basketball in a professional NBA league and he is just recently the father of his first child, Noah.
A lot of people who keep up with what goes on in Cayman’s community already know these things about Mr. Anglin.
What some may not know is that he’s been to jail.
It was only for one night and it happened when he was 12. But he admits it was a life-changing experience for him.
“I realised that, not only had I embarrassed myself, but I had hurt my family members,” Mr. Anglin said. “I remember my mother and grandmother, and I could tell this had hurt them really badly.
“I never, ever wanted to make them feel like that again. When my mother came to bail me out, she couldn’t even look at me.”
The company man
Circa 1990, Collin was just another kid hanging around Mount Pleasant Road in West Bay.
He was popular and had lots of friends, some on the basketball team, some from church, some from the neighbourhood.
“I had some friends that were into some stuff that I knew was wrong, but we shared some of the common bonds that a lot of kids do…we loved playing video games, we loved playing marbles, riding our bikes around,” Mr. Anglin said. “I was aware they did this stuff from time to time, but I just wouldn’t take part.”
One night he ended up getting roped into the being the lookout man when this group of friends decided to go break into the old Morgan’s Harbour dive shop.
“The rest of the guys were kind of like ‘we won’t get caught’. They were insisting on it and I said ‘no I’m not going to do it’. So they said ‘you can stay here if you want, just let us know if you see any cars coming’.”
The guys from the neighbourhood – a few of whom have ended up on the adult court docket in more recent years, charged with serious offences – went in and took about 18 sodas and maybe $20 in quarters, Mr. Anglin said. No one noticed, and they all took off a short while later.
A police car showed up the next day while young Collin was at a friend’s house, looking for him.
“They take me to the station and I asked [the officer] ‘what’s the matter?’” Mr. Anglin said. “He told me that there was a robbery last night, [and police] found a couple of the guys that were responsible. There were some guys at the time in West Bay that, anytime something went wrong [the police] went to their homes.”
The officer then told Collin: “We told them that if they let us know who else was involved in the crime that we would let them go. So they called your name.”
Mr. Anglin remembers “there were eight of us, and they say they caught two, but I was the only one in [jail] from the group.
“I spent one night in prison there, had a lot of time to think,” he said. The next day, his mom came to get him out.
“I had to go to court, my lawyer told me I had to plead guilty – because I was there and I didn’t do anything to stop it,” Mr. Anglin said. “There was this guy who was in charge of juvenile justice who said ‘if you make a deal with me….if you promise to stay out of trouble for at least the next 18 months, I will wipe this from your record.’”
“I said, ‘sir you can get a good look at my face because you’ll never see it again,’” Mr. Anglin recalls.
The court – at least the legal kind – never did see Collin again.
He went and spoke with the group of friends that was involved in the break-in and told them he couldn’t hang around them if they were going to do this kind of thing anymore. They didn’t really listen.
“So I just changed my friends,” he said. “It didn’t mean that I stopped…caring about them, but I just changed my friends.
“I learned a lot from my family, but the largest influence on my decision-making was what I learned in Sunday school. It was like a loud voice always for me growing up when I was facing certain decisions, what I learned in church often prevailed.”
He also learned the importance of the company one keeps.
“You are the same person you will be ten years from now except for the books you read, the choices you make and the people you associate yourself with.”
Kenny Bryan was most definitely a star and he doesn’t mind talking about it.
Mr. Bryan, 30, was crowned Mr. Cayman Islands in 2001, took a trip to the Mr. World event and ended up placing fourth runner-up.
Modelling companies came calling. In the next few years he was off to London, Turkey and Toronto on various jobs. It was a whirlwind tour for a young man from a small island who, admittedly, had come from humble beginnings.
And that’s where the trouble started.
“Being in that lifestyle and being where I’m from, I guess you can categorise it as coming from a low-privilege background, I knew a lot of people who did negative things like sell drugs,” Mr. Bryan said. “But I also lived the lifestyle of women and going partying and all that. So, I was kind of a link between two worlds…people who liked to party and snort coke, but I also knew who the drug dealer was. So that’s where I got caught – in between.”
In 2004, Mr. Bryan was home for part of the time and back on the party circuit.
“Women who were here on vacation would say ‘hey, do you know where I can get some blow?’ and I would go get it because that gets me in the door to say ‘hey, let’s go party after the club,” Mr. Bryan said.
Unfortunately for him, one of the women turned out to be an undercover cop who was taking part in a police sting operation on West Bay Road.
With the destruction wreaked upon the Islands during September 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, Mr. Bryan’s court case was delayed. The modelling gig hadn’t panned out and he decided in 2006 to start on an accounting degree at the University College of the Cayman Islands. It was almost another two years before he was sentenced to 43 days in prison on the drugs offence.
Today, Mr. Bryan thinks the time in lock up led to something like an epiphany.
“It was refreshing….I said to myself ‘listen this is not a joke you just can’t go around making stupid decisions and just thinking everything is going to be all right’,” he said. “I wasn’t getting any younger and at the end of the day I lived in a professional society that judges you on what you do.”
After getting out, he said it was his then-girlfriend and now wife who helped keep him on the right track.
”My wife now, was I guess in any degree my mentor, saying ‘don’t worry, stay focused, you’ll get a job’, but I had this conviction on my hands and it was tough enough to get a job before,” Mr. Bryan said.
In July 2008, he got a chance when Cayman 27 news director April Cummings hired him to work as a reporter. Mr. Bryan had virtually no experience, but he got the chance all the same on the third time he applied for the job.
“[April] took a chance on me,” he said. “She gave me that second chance in a society that not that many people give you second chances.”
Mr. Bryan said his previous troubles have given him a unique perspective as a journalist.
“Every day that I go out…I see a person that goes ‘boy, I’m not getting no work. I gotta do what I gotta do.’ And when he says that, I know what that means,” Mr. Bryan said. “The only thing I say to him is to stay focused and keep on trying. Is it right for me to tell him not to sell marijuana when he can’t feed his three kids? The question of whether he should’ve had those kids in the first place is another story. But the fact is, he has them now.”
His advice to the younger generation?
“Use my example. I screwed up….and I asked God please give me all the tools I need to try. I guess just have patience; if you’re annoying enough someone will give you a second chance. Once you get in the door, it’s up to you to prove yourself.”
The kids in the hall
The above examples aside, some teenagers today say that they’re already seeing signs of criminal tendencies in kids even younger than them. But most believe that the country is still small enough to get a handle on crime if those issues are dealt with now.
The Caymanian Compass spoke to a number of high school students about the problems they see day-to-day in the classroom and outside of it. Their perspectives on crime often differ quite a bit from their older counterparts.
“A lot of time people think its foreigners, perhaps, from poorer countries,” said Kimberly Carlos, who attends Saint Ignatius. “But really and truly, it’s coming from our younger generations. A lot of parents nowadays, they’re slackening up with their kids and just letting them go anywhere they feel like.
”I can see that there will be upcoming juvenile delinquents because…of their behaviour,” she said. “There are kids from Year Seven and Year Eight, they have this personality that they don’t care and they’re free to do whatever they please.”
Karlie Lovinggood, who goes to Clifton Hunter, thinks crime is a problem in local schools already.
“We have a lot of the older students, Year 11 students…they get to mingle with us and they’re dealing drugs. They actually addressed this issue in an assembly with us a few weeks ago,” Karlie said. “I think crime is inevitable…and we need to be looking for solutions. Maybe we could offer more scholarships for [criminal justice] or programmes like that.”
Tremayne Ebanks agrees and believes there’s an element of gangs that has become evident in Cayman.
“I know people who sell drugs and they do it for easy money,” he said. “I don’t know how to stop it. You can decrease crime, but I don’t think you can stop it.”
Cayman International School student Dajsha Samuels believes crime is having a “domino effect” on the Cayman society which is affecting everything.
“Parents are becoming very cautious with their children,” Dajsha said. “I just started driving and my mom says ‘Dajs, you have to be home at this time, you cannot be on the road at this time, because crimes are out of control.’ It’s limiting what I can do.
“It makes me feel imprisoned.”
But Dajsha also believes other parents exacerbate the situation by making excuses for their kids when they do get in trouble.
“Some parents…if a teacher has problems at school with the child, the parent will swear for the child and say ‘my child didn’t do this, my child didn’t do that’, instead of facing what the teacher said,” she said.
St. Ignatius student Andrel Harris believes there really is no simple explanation for why crime occurs, but he thinks the country has taken steps toward improving the situation.
“The robberies that we’re seeing are the result of, perhaps the recession, along with poor parenting – combined with the fact that the criminals themselves didn’t have the educational tools that students like myself now have,” Andrel said. “We now realise that unemployment is a serious problem…so government has taken steps to ensure that unemployment can be reduced.
“Then you have the issue of students with idle time. There are several programmes based in school and within the community that are tailored directly towards reducing spare time that children may have on their hands. The only issue that’s left, in my eyes, is poor parenting.
“My suggestion on that [is] to have a Parent Accountability Act. If your child is under a certain age and they’re outside after a certain time, then you – the parent – should have to pay a fine or go to court. If your child is under a certain age and they have committed a criminal offence, you too will be held accountable.”
Moses Ebanks, who also attends Cayman International, said he believes the issue is not so much the number of crimes, but who is committing those crimes.
“The thing that makes it serious is it’s our young Caymanians, and it’s just the fact that they’re continuously finding these things to do instead of doing what they should be doing,” he said. “It’s ridiculous how they can feel like they are superior…and they can do whatever they want.”
“I don’t know anyone that personally gets into crime, but I do know some people that get into drugs. I see it mostly as them finding pleasure – they feel that this is the best thing to do.”