Police ‘lighter’ on officers

    MP

    The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s chief of operations said this week the department is still down officers from its peak number of a 
few years ago.  

    According to records reviewed by the Caymanian Compass, the RCIPS had 365 officers in mid-2007. Since then, staffing numbers have fallen – particularly in the areas of routine street patrols and the department’s neighbourhood policing programme.  

    “Obviously, it is difficult and it’s not only for ‘feet on the beat’ but the resources that we need,” said Chief Superintendent John Jones on Monday. “We’re not asking for growth, we’re saying give us what we should have … particularly in areas like neighbourhood policing where we’ve had to reduce resources to service the 24-hour policing. That’s not an ideal situation.”  

    The officer shortage has changed the way police operations are handled. Mr. Jones said officers have had to prioritise the 
investigation of certain crimes.  

    However, he said these decisions on crime priorities do not mean local police “closed the book” on robberies and especially bank robberies that have plagued the Islands since the latter half of 2010.  

    “This is a very small police department that deals with quite a lot of serious crime,” Mr. Jones said. “The book’s not closed on the bank robberies, I would suggest that the book’s not closed on the other robberies we’ve had either.” 

    Although the police service budget does show some funding increases between the government’s previous and current budget year, the full levels of funding that existed prior to 2009 have never been achieved, according to the government’s annual plan and estimates.  

    In the 2009/10 budget year, the ‘police services’ allotment, including patrols, community events, developing neighbourhood watches and the like, was estimated at $16.5 million. Estimates for the year ending 30 June, 2011, put that expenditure at $12.7 million.  

    The 2011/12 spending, that’s the government’s current budget year, seeks to restore some of that funding, to just more than $15 million. However, that is still less than existed in the 2009/10 budget.  

    The upcoming budget calls for an increase in patrols of between 13,000 and 14,000 hours for the year, or between 250 and 270 extra hours per week. Officers are also budgeted to spend more time at community events, school programmes and assisting victims.  

    Less money has been budgeted for police security services, which include personal security for government members, security for law courts, security for official delegates and security for money transfers.  

    That budget has been reduced from an estimated $2.2 million in the current year, to $1.76 million in the new spending plan, a drop of about $440,000.  

    The police budget allotment for investigating and detecting crime has also been partially restored from a $500,000 cut it received in the 2010/11 budget. Lawmakers propose to add about $120,000 to that service in the upcoming year.  

    Chief Superintendent Jones admitted it has been a struggle to keep the RCIPS criminal investigation department fully up to staff, partly due to recruiting issues.  

    “One of the necessary frustrations is the length of time it takes to get people in the organisation,” Mr. Jones said, adding that police recruits from outside of Cayman must undergo extensive criminal background checks to ensure that they have “no skeletons in the cupboard”.  

    “We were recruiting against shortages … in the beginning of 2010,” Mr. Jones said. “We’re in a healthier situation than we were in, in terms of detectives than we were in 2010.”  

    Police have also not had to deal with a significant number of killings, similar to what was seen in the Cayman Islands during 2009 and 2010, which put a strain on the detective bureau.  

    However, two major missing person’s cases – neither of which have been resolved – have put significant strain on the service, Mr. Jones said.  

    “We treated [both the Anna Evans and Kerran Baker disappearance] in exactly the same way,” he said. “We deployed the same staff and resources.”  

    Police have also been inundated with reports of armed robberies. But overall crime numbers have fallen steadily since the start of the year, mostly due to a reduction in burglaries which are the most frequently reported serious crime in Cayman.  

    RCIPS also doesn’t have much of a budget for construction projects or new equipment. 

    There aren’t many major police projects in the upcoming budget, but one major accomplishment – expected to occur by September – is the completion of the marine base in Newlands. Construction started in 2007 and some $500,000 remains to be spent to wrap things up.  

    An additional $800,000 is budgeted for the installation of Cayman’s first closed-circuit television public monitoring system. Cameras are being installed in the George Town area in recent weeks. 

    FirstCarib1

    Armed police on the scene of the First Caribbean bank robbery in George Town earlier this year. The heist is one of a number of unsolved robberies in Cayman this year. – Photo: File
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    11 COMMENTS

    1. Introduce a reward/bonus system for policemen who perform well. Give them Success patches for their uniforms, and identify those especially who have dealt with nasty and violent offenders.

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    2. Here is an idea….STOP promoting officers to higher positions who are unqualified just so you can have someone kiss your a…You have more officers above the rank of Sgt. in the RCIPS now than you have EVER had before and the vast majority sit in an air conditioned office and NEVER come out except to go to lunch or wander around the halls of GTPS…You want the answer? Put these uniform carriers and useless gits out on the street and MAKE THEM your community beat officers and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!! That IS and ALWAYS WILL BE the bane of the RCIPS..NO ACCOUNTABILITY…

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    3. Try to understand that the more officers we get, is the more we have to pay for them, and the more fees and duties increase. Yes we have to fight crime, but one reason why crime is out of hand is because of the hikes in fees and duties. I think we need to focus more on the quality of officers we have instead of the quantity. Moreover, we don’t need more UK officers to come here, pay for their vacations, and pay to investigate us when they already have CCTV camaras all over the place, zooming at civilians every move. I remember some years back we had about 300 officers. I can’t understand how we now have almost 400 officers, and still we can’t effectively fight crime. So it is not quantity – it is how the Police Service is being managed!

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    4. From what I have seen, I would not call some of these officers light. A few more salads, and a few less patties should help a minority squeeze into their uniforms.

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    5. @Pattieman: I LOL at your comment…yes, I agree, that quite a number of officers in the service are very unfit, however,this is a systemic problem that does not make it a condition of employment that one must pass a fitness evaluation annually..a few years ago, the RCIPS tried this experiment, but so many senior officers were so unfit that they quashed the idea..

      @ B.T.: I agree and disagree with parts of your comment..I agree that we are NOT getting value for money in our current police service and that the idea of quantity over quality is the answer to the problem…however, if you take a look at the qualifications of the officers who are recruited from the UK, generally they are better educated and qualified than the majority of the officers who are recruited from neighboring Caribbean countries and even locally, and that most of them come here with a good belief that they will do a good job, however, after a few months of being exposed to officers whose outright prejudice and ignorance is enough to demoralize anyone..as far as your belief that the RCIPS is using CCTV to monitor civilians and zooming at civilians every move..You could not be more mistaken…once and for all the CoP needs to be open and transparent and announce that the RCIPS has NO control over the CCTV program..this program is being monitored and run by Emergency Communications…that’s right..the same department that handles all your 911 calls…they have a dedicated department and the officers whose job it is to monitor these cameras are Highly qualified and vetted to the highest levels..I repeat,the RCIPS has access to PASSIVELY monitor the CCTV system but it has NO DIRECT CONTROL of it…hope this puts some of those worries to rest…

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    6. How about spending a load of money for some great looking souped up dodge chargers, obviously left hand drive and unsuitable for Cayman roads??? Oh, hang on….

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    7. Why not let the public help the police. After robberies, witnesses are providing videos, names, crucial information but the police do not seem to know what to do with it. There are a lot of amateur investigators that are willing to help but does not have the police department support. Remember that no government departments would never, ever, be as efficient as a private citizen willing to help.

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    8. Ilovecayman – yes! why don’t we just let the public do the job…wow, they could even do summary executions and beatings.

      As for those who disagree with me about the ‘lighter’ comments…what??? you think there are officers who do not need to cut back on their calories. I did say it was a minority. You want the cops to catch robbers (who are built like a cross between a whippet and a sewer rat), yet you expect Officer Fattybum-Bum to do the running???

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    9. Pattieman: I agreed with you and said so in my comments…dont’ take it personally…there are WAAAAY too many people who have nothing better to do than sit at their computers..give a thumbs down and then clear their cookies out of their history and then give a thumbs down again..and over and over and over.. 🙂

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    10. Rorschach: No worries, I do not take it personally, just the fact people disagree doesn’t mean it is wrong. Millions of people on the planet bought a Ford Escort – doesn’t mean to say it is the best car on earth. Most people who thumbs down are probably chunky monkeys themselves, who are in denial.

      The police have a very tough job here. Mute witnesses, hostility from a section of society who think cops are enemies ‘cos they have seen it in a gangster film, tough economic climate resulting in crime for financial gain, as well as the usual idiots to deal with. I wish them luck!

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