The sense that crime rates have ballooned and that we are under siege may be an over-reaction, but the concern is clear, and our poll respondents are fed up.
Prescriptions for addressing the problem grow increasingly angry, even radical, indicating a sort of rolling boil. Termination of Police Commissioner David Baines, suspension of civil liberties, economic penalties levied on the families of convicted criminals, a wholesale reconstitution of the police force, even a formal declaration of anarchy.
The topmost answer to what police should do in the wake of Cayman’s crime wave is to bring in more police – the same British police who came to Cayman’s aid during the September 2011 wave of West Bay gangland shootings that left five people dead.
Out of 565 votes last week, 233, or 41.2 percent, thought that Cayman should “bring back the British police that helped previously.” They left only two comments, however.
“Bring in American police from larger crime-ridden cities as well,” said one.
The “other” category offered similar remarks, helping illuminate the “bring back British police” sentiment.
“Get rid of Caymanian police officers and hire an entirely expat force,” said one commentator. “They don’t care who you are related to or who you know and it won’t affect how they do their job.”
A second “other” opinion, however, contradicted the suggestion, indicating potential problems with local officers might be worth exchanging for familiarity with local conditions. “Hire Caymanian police who know how to deal with people,” said the commentator.
More cryptic was the opinion that Cayman should “make offenders become accountable.” Although without explanation, the comment was supported by the “other” category, offering better clarity and strong medicine.
“Start from the beginning. Make parents financially responsible for the crimes of juvenile offenders, including incarceration. For that matter, make immediate relatives responsible for paying the costs of investigating, [trying] and incarcerating prisoners.
“Make prisoners work hard labor. Legalize pot and tax the hell out of it and finally get rid of what amounts to welfare in social services and turn it into workfare.”
Placing second in the poll, recording 189 votes, 33.5 percent of the total, was the idea that police should increase their patrols.
None of those voters left a comment, although, again, the “other” category offered strong advice: “The British police didn’t help to reduce crime,” the voter said. “It was because of the crime-fighting skills and dedication of those unsung heroes like Mel Brown, Dennis Brady, Shaun Ebanks and others. Those officers were a generation of crime fighters that Cayman won’t see again. My advice is to employ some of those well-experienced officers who know the islands in and out, in the capacity of private investigators.”
In third place was a proposal to suspend the civil liberties of offenders in order to streamline crime-fighting efforts, a suggestion that attracted 64 votes, or 11.3 percent of the total.
One voter thought “we have forgotten God too much,” and called on all of Cayman “to repent before it [is] too late.”
Civil liberties formed a part of remarks in the “other” category, itself in fourth place with 48 votes and 8.5 percent of the total. Some wanted to “bring back the curfew,” others to “wiretap and spy on people,” another lamented perceived conditions at Northward prison: “Boot camp at prison. Why do human rights protect them so much? The offenders live better at Northward than our retirees.”
Ranking last, with 31 votes, 5.5 percent of the total, was the admonition to “boost police response times.”
Next week’s poll question
Changes to immigration and employment rules have been in the news. Are they for the best?
Yes. They mean more Caymanian employment
No. They allow more permanent-resident expatriates
Don’t know. No one understands the new rules
The changes are window dressing. They mean little
To participate, visit www.cayCompass.com.