A gun amnesty meeting encouraging Bodden Town residents to hand in weapons they had no use for had Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers under fire when residents quizzed them on what they were doing to address unruly youths and other issues in the community.
Only six residents attended Thursday night’s meeting at Webster’s Memorial Church Hall, but they had questions for the officers.
“If you were not all there sitting on your ‘lardie’ and get out there and do something, we might get something done,” said one irate resident. “What are you doing to address these criminals that are committing these crimes?”
The resident also wanted to find out if the meeting being held was only to target illegal weapons and if the meeting would replace the regular police meetings started by former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan.
The police officers said the meeting was to encourage residents to bring in illegal firearms and ammunition and that such meetings were only one of many ways police were addressing getting guns off the streets, while citing the amount of guns confiscated in the past three years.
“We are all affected by what is taking place, but it is no longer solely a police problem,” said Superintendent Kurt Walton. “We have some major social issues in the country which have become a problem, but as a country we are responsible to ensure the safety of the Cayman Islands.”
One elderly resident blamed parents for the “foolishness” taking place. “I keep a sharpened machete ready at all times. If any one of the criminals come into my home, I will chop off his head and bring it and place on a desk at the police station,” she said.
She said she was not placing the blame for the criminal activity on the police. “Parents need to be in more control of their children,” she said.
“Some of these youths are coming from dysfunctional homes and are being raised by single parents – they need father figures. Some parents even freely hand out money so they can buy whatever they need. When they don’t get it, they go out and rob.
“These parents need to teach their children to go out and find work and be more responsible in the community and have manners. The police needs to get involved in the community families,” she said.
She added: “Parents must suspect something is wrong when a child’s demeanour changes when they come home. They go out at night wearing hoodies, long sleeve shirts and masks and the police can only report they were so tall, wearing long sleeve and mask and so forth, which does not help. People need to look for distinguishing marks on individuals and parents need to take more responsibility in what their children are doing.”
The officers appealed to residents not to take the law into their own hands and said they would not promote more violence as a way of solving the issue.
Another resident questioned what was happening with children who were not attending school. She said these children were stealing from other people’s homes, adding that Children and Family Services were providing for the families who sit around and do nothing about making sure their children attend school.
Michael Myles, the Ministry of Education’s programme coordinator and liaison officer for at-risk youth, responded that there currently was a shortage of truancy officers, but that the Department of Education needed to know the names of children not attending school on a regular basis. He added that programmes were in place to deal with such situations and promised to look into the issue.
The meeting ended with no-one turning in any weapons or ammunition.