Crime concerns raised at West Bay meeting

Despite a small turnout at Thursday’s community meeting in West Bay, some of the district’s larger issues were laid out for discussion.

About 14 residents, police officers and West Bay MLA Tara Rivers raised concerns about stronger family structures, greater community support, better facilities for mental illness sufferers, and a crack down on drugs and gun crime in the district.

Addressing the group at the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service chief inspector Harlan Powery said the West Bay Police Station had received 3,286 calls for service this year so far and had made 253 arrests.

Police statistics from the district reported 403 calls for service related to domestic issues, while mental health calls were logged at 9; burglary 58; motor vehicle accidents 113; theft 199; threatening violence 78; and ferocious dogs 27.

Arrests were recorded at 36 for assaults; burglary 11; drugs 20; firearms related incidents 2; robbery 1 and threatening violence 11.

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Mr. Powery said mental health related incidents were higher than the recorded number but police had only recently begun entering the data it its own field to allow for more accurate statistics.

“We have been doing it for 20 to 30 years. It was only two or three individuals but now it is escalating,” he said. “It is quite sad, particularly with the lack of facilities. The last thing you want to do is incarcerate someone with a mental illness but the facilities are so limited. “Where are we going to house them? Where are we going to put them?”

He also expressed concern about family structure in the area, and said there are too many children without fathers or role models.

“The government cannot raise every child,” Mr. Powery said. “The strengthening of family structure is key.”

He said officers are also dealing with children as young as 11 who are admitting to drug use, some on a daily basis.

“The level of drug use among our children is incredible. It’s like drinking water, there is no stigma.”

West Bay MLA, Minister Tara Rivers, urged action by the community.

“In the end, the community needs to step up and come together,” Ms. Rivers said.

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