Editorial for October 3: Growing cost of serious crime

In September 2011, a wave of violent crime washed over Grand Cayman. A string of five shootings within nine days prompted officials to take immediate action.

With the aim of bolstering the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s capabilities, Cabinet approved $4.6 million in extra funding to law enforcement. Police beefed up their ranks with new recruits and called in outside help from British officers.

Two years later, a wave of violent crime is again washing over Grand Cayman.

Within the past five weeks, the Caymanian Compass has reported on 10 incidents involving firearms, including the killing of 52-year-old Irvin Bush and the wounding of a 6-year-old boy during a grocery store robbery.

Those two crimes happened in West Bay, but gun violence does not discriminate against any district on the island. Gunmen are perpetrating holdups and invasions in George Town, Bodden Town and North Side, targeting individuals, households and businesses alike. Whether under cover of night or in the brightness of day, criminality is prospering.

Last year, police reported serious crime had declined significantly in the first half of 2012. Only a couple of a months ago, police proclaimed another substantial drop in reported offenses.

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The police have extensive and expensive equipment, modern weaponry and wide latitude to pursue their duties. Yet crime appears still to be proliferating.

Depending on how incidents are recorded and reported, one may indeed be able to identify a decrease in crime, statistically. But all crimes are not created equal, and are not perceived as equal by the local community or international visitors. This territory continues to experience the most frightening acts on the criminal spectrum: direct assaults on people’s bodies and break-ins into their homes and businesses.

The police helicopter buzzes overhead. Police boats ring the islands. New police cars patrol our streets. Special police units carry firearms or Tasers. The voluntary constabulary helps serve warrants and make arrests. The number of salaried officers is near a record high, and police are looking for a dozen or so more Caymanian recruits for cadet training.

Still, the narrative of what passes for law and order in Cayman remains the same. Cultural and socioeconomic conditions may contribute to crime, which police are understandably unable to prevent. When a crime does occur, suspects often elude capture and investigators often decline even to inform the public that certain crimes have taken place.

If a suspect is arrested, the process is marked by interminable prosecutorial and judicial delays, and if a conviction is eventually secured, multiple, costly appeals often follow.

Too often the lengthy trial process ends with judges dismissing cases based on inadequate evidence or poor police procedure. If a criminal is found guilty, judges are wont to impose sentences that, to the untrained eye, appear either disproportionate to the offenses, or in the case of some sex crimes, terribly inadequate.

The criminal justice system of the Cayman Islands is under fire and appears flawed at nearly every level. The defects in our society cannot be disguised with either denials or additional financial appropriations.

The police have been granted extraordinary funding and appropriate power. What is needed is a universal commitment at all levels – from our police, our prosecutors, our judges and our people – to declare with one voice that enough is enough. We will no longer tolerate living in an environment of increasing insecurity and fear.

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  1. This isn’t rocket science.

    The police only need to look at the violent criminals who’s been released from Northward Prison recently.

    This cycle is consistent and predictable.

    Even reading the news from abroad, its frightening to think that Caymanians ( and I don’t want to hear anything about it not being Caymanians…I know better than that ) have become so cold blooded to be shooting at, wounding and in other ways, injuring the people that they are robbing.

    When will Cayman’s citizens be allowed to arm themselves for protection ?

    Even Britain is not as bad as Cayman because we can own some type of non-lethal bore firearms like gas pistols and such, legally, even though still answerable to the law if used in self-defense or home-protection.

    In Cayman, you have NOTHING at all and are at the mercy of some increasingly merciless criminals.

  2. In no way am I saying the criminals themselves are not responsible for these crimes but a great deal of fault lies on the RCIPS and those in charge, they are the ones that are highly funded and tasked with the responsibility of protecting the public. And this is a job that they are not doing well, it’s obvious that they are not equipped to handle the elevated criminal activity in the Cayman Islands. It is high time they come out from behind their Air cooled offices and hit the streets showing these thugs that they are a force to be reckoned with. Right now the criminal element in Cayman have no true concerns about the local police force because they are never around and the ones that they do see are really not equipped to show any true resistance outside of maybe observing from a safe hiding place until they run away.

    Why are all the local activists not pulling the people together and rallying against this growing cancer ? The only reason I can think of is that they are familiar, kin or acquainted with the perpetrators of these crimes and feel that the activity is justified or not their fault. Cayman is quickly losing it reputation as the safe haven it used to be and once that is gone all the pleasures that go with it will also be gone. Mark my words people this is one of the greatest threats to our way of life so please people let’s all pull together and become part of the solution or else we are nothing but part of the problem.

    A lot of people may feel that this will push away a lot of unwanted foreigner residents, businesses and visitors leaving Cayman for Caymanians and feel that this would be a good thing, but will we really be better off without the outside investment into our little island nation? Think for a moment, people complain that there are no jobs now, how bad will it be without all the big foreign finance companies or all the tourists that land on our shores? We really need to think twice before feeling that we would be better off with them. Right now these two industries are Caymans bread and butter and they both rely on outsiders coming in. All those foreign workers are the ones renting our apartments, eating at our restaurants, shopping at our stores and taking tours that we provide. The percentage of foreigners on this island is higher than Caymanian residents, do we really think that we could sustain ourselves without them?

  3. Mr. Davis

    I agree with your sentiments; I can tell that you are sincere and do care but…

    The ONLY person who can stop that bad thing from happening to you, in that moment of the very worse experience of your life is…YOU !

    And you had better be prepared to do whatever it takes.

    The police will be on hand later to clean up the mess…they won’t be there when you really need them.

    Take it from someone who’s had a bit of experience and is still around to share it with you.