Long-empty district police stations in East End and North Side will be staffed with one police officer apiece starting in the government’s new budget year, according to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service commanders.
The plan is to place the North Side officer at the police station in July and the East End officer at that station toward the end of this year or early next year, RCIPS Superintendent Adrian Seales said Thursday.
“We can’t open the police station 24-7, but at least we’ll have a constable in the smaller communities,” Mr. Seales said.
The idea at the moment is to have whatever officers are assigned to the East End and North Side stations live in those buildings as their primary home, Mr. Seales confirmed.
He said this was done previously at local police stations in the less populated areas of the Cayman Islands and that the North Side and East End stations, both duplexes, are a perfect fit, with the officer’s home on one side of the duplex and the police station on the other.
Mr. Seales envisions the role as mainly a community policing function, with the officer getting to know people in the community and gathering information about where some of the trouble spots are located.
“The officer will be doing, on occasion, eight-hour shifts, some days, some evenings,” he said. “They’ll live at the North Side police station, but they’re supported by the other officers [on the force].”
At the moment, both of the smaller district police stations are never staffed unless a police officer attends there to write a report or interview an individual in the course of their duties. Typically, police officers stationed in Bodden Town are assigned patrol duties in East End and North Side during each shift, but they do not routinely staff the stations.
Legislative Assembly members for the less-populous districts of Grand Cayman have groused in recent years about a perceived lack of police presence in East End, North Side and Bodden Town, though police statistics in the past year have shown that those districts do not receive nearly as many calls for service as George Town and West Bay.
Staffing levels at the Bodden Town station were boosted after RCIPS Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks revealed in October that only five police officers were available to cover any one shift at the station.
Chief Inspector Ebanks acknowledged at the time that he asked his officers why, after driving through Bodden Town district, he hadn’t seen any police cars.
“Every time, they have been dealing with something else,” Mr. Ebanks said. “We’re working with what we have.”
According to RCIPS records released late last year, police officers deal with nearly 10 times as much crime in West Bay as in either North Side or East End. There is also substantially more crime reported in West Bay than in Bodden Town, East End and North Side combined, stats show.
A map of police responses for the first nine months of 2013 shows that officers are called to deal with an average of less than two crimes each day in North Side and East End.
In a budget debate over police resources in September, legislators for the two smaller districts suggested their areas were urgently in need of additional resources to fight rising crime.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller proposed adding around $1.3 million to the police budget to pay for new officers, including six specifically to cover East End and North Side. The motion was rejected.