We learned over the weekend that another robbery, this one involving two armed men, took place at Smith Cove, one of our major local and tourist attractions. This is in the wake of a recent murder in West Bay, another incident in Lower Valley involving a gunman who terrorized a woman, a carjacking, insurgent gang violence and so many burglaries, including home invasions, that we have difficulty keeping our crimes and our thugs straight.
Against this background, new Governor Helen Kilpatrick is engaging with the National Security Council to get a better understanding of the scope of the problem. Governor Kilpatrick has said she intends to employ a “light hand” of oversight during her tenure here, but we would suggest a much “heavier hand” is called for here. She and the council also need to examine for effectiveness the tripartite of participants in law enforcement: The police, the legal department and the judiciary.
For years, Cayman has funded and fortified the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, swelling its forces to more than 400 and spending tens of millions of dollars on physical equipment, including supercharged cars, an expensive network of CCTV cameras and even a police helicopter.
And yet, serious crime appears impervious to these approaches and appropriations. Worse, we at this newspaper and you as the public have little inkling as to the day-to-day crime the community faces because, in most instances, the police won’t share that information. For example, with no official notification, we recently discovered and reported on several break-ins at businesses in the heart of Seven Mile Beach. Likewise, we are aware of a popular nightspot in George Town that is currently being burglarized with alarming (even predictable) regularity. Again, there is no sharing of this information with the media or, by proxy, the public.
We would suggest to the RCIPS that “media relations” and “public relations” are very different things. Media relations are meant to meaningfully inform, and public relations are designed to disseminate “good news” (such as “we caught another crook”). Certainly bromidic press releases advising the public to “remain vigilant” are of no value whatsoever. In any event, real media relations are nearly nonexistent and in need of reevaluation and repair.
We would hope that our new governor, whose scope of responsibilities includes the safety and security of these islands, along with the National Security Council, would examine carefully our current so-called “British model” of policing and the protection of our citizenry.
The council needs to reconsider the policy of police officers not being allowed to carry guns, homeowners not being allowed any means to protect themselves and their families, and women not being allowed to carry even pepper spray to deter an assailant.
The first job of law enforcement is to protect the people and their property. If it cannot, then we must have an open and vigorous debate on changing our current policy to allow the public to protect itself.