We’re all becoming victims of gun crime

“We have started to see the trend that not only was the premises being targeted, but also staff and patrons at outside bars at very popular locations.”
— RCIPS Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay

If not addressed, the above statement threatens to be an epitaph for the Cayman Islands as a tourism destination. Safety is the singular advantage that Cayman enjoys over our Caribbean neighbors.

To tourism, crime is the cancer that spreads and, if not arrested, eventually kills. It also corrodes and erodes the quality of life for all of our residents.

For the third time in a month, armed assailants have barged into a well-known, tourist-oriented restaurant to terrorize and rob. For the third time, they met with complete success.

The scene of the latest crime is the waterfront Paradise Restaurant on South Church Street, where late Monday night a man brandishing a handgun stole a phone and wallet from two tourists, plus cash from a waiter (in the midst of the Pirates Week Festival, no less).

As Chief Inspector Kay also said, the method employed in the Paradise robbery is similar to the October hold-ups at Da Fish Shack on North Church Street and Coconut Joe’s on West Bay Road.

It does little good for the RCIPS to hold press conferences to “prove” that crime is diminishing. Reactions to gun-toting thugs, conducting their assaults at high-profile establishments, are visceral and not subject to graphs or charts designed to convince us that we are safer than we were, say, a year ago.

At the Compass, we continue to support our police. They did not create the social problems we expect them to address. They may need more resources (we do believe that the first line of defense is an increased visible presence) and they certainly need more sources. Good information is the key to crime solving.

As long as “don’t ask, don’t tell” prevails as a community ethic, we can expect our crime problems to worsen. It’s time for everyone in Cayman to sign up in a national war against crime. It’s a war we can ill-afford to lose.


  1. I do support the police getting more resources. The days of flashlight and baton is over. Also officers who work hard in the field should be fairly compensated. It is nothing worse than an unhappy police officer on the job. There are many officers who work extremely hard and should be credited with promotions and pay for this. This happens with anyone, you pay me good, I work hard for you. But there are those who allow criminals to threaten them and they do nothing about it.
    One is constantly asking why are crimes of robbery and thievery getting out of hand. If we do not have officers who let criminals know that enough is enough, then it will continue. There is always a right and wrong way of doing things, and that is our down fall we are not using the old time strategy, which worked much better. I do not feel that the public need to tell the police how to do their jobs, but I can safely say that I used to see police worked with a different style twenty years ago, and trust me they had things under control. Just the presence of a parked police car in certain areas can make a world of difference. So instead of driving in and out of avenues and lanes park for a while, Also, you will hear many officers complain that the public does not have their backs, and there hands are tied in many instances. That need to stop. It is either we go all out with the police in support of a no nonsense approach or accept the consequences.

  2. When seconds count, the best police in the world are still minutes away. Individuals should be allowed to protect themselves as a first line of defense. If criminals know there is a risk of someone they plan to rob having an equalizing weapon, they think twice. When guns are illegal, only criminals have guns. Cities with the highest crime rates in the US are those with the strictest gun laws. It is admirable to call for the public to speak up about criminal activity when they know about it. It is also realistic to consider allowing law abiding, honest citizens to protect themselves.

  3. How exactly does an increased police presence help? What are they empowered to do? What laws do we have that actually act as a deterrent? We can no longer put people in prison for life, because some geniuses decided it violated human rights and was inhumane.

    So, again, I ask how does this solve anything? Let us assume they actually catch someone other than a speeder or non-seat belt wearer- so what? We rarely issue consecutive sentences, the police aren’t likely to shoot the offenders dead in the street.

    They will simply get out of Northward and victimize the population again, or other gun toting thugs will take their place. We have no effective permanent solutions to this (or any other) problem facing the islands.

  4. My wife and I wholly support the call for all Caymanians to do what they can to stop the violent crime before it gets worse. But we come to the issue from a different perspective–that of U.S. citizens who have been coming to the Islands at least three times a year since the mid-90’s. Yes, we are tourists. We love the islands and their people. It is a second home for us. But increasing violent crime is very much a concern for us and I am sure for other visitors. The number of incidents are very low, granted, but unchecked violence always grows. Now is the time to do whatever is necessary to stop it while you can. We cannot go somewhere we cannot be sure our family will be safe. For many years we came to the Islands knowing we were as safe as we could be. We want to feel that way again for us and for all of the residents of the CI.

  5. @peter
    The number of incidents is not very low in proportion to this island’s population.
    The number of sworn officers in proportion to this island’s
    Population is more than adequate .
    How in the world the entire population of this island got overly intimidated by a handful of criminals? This is not Detroit or Mexico city,but a tiny island in the middle of the ocean with rather humongous police force.
    Overall blah blah blah is continuing…

  6. Good information is the key to crime solving.

    As long as don’t ask, don’t tell prevails as a community ethic, we can expect our crime problems to worsen.

    And you cannot and will not get that information if you are dis-connected and isolated from the community that you are sworn to serve and protect.

    This is the position that the RCIPS finds itself in as a police force and has created for itself.

    This has not happened overnight and many factors have contributed, some within and some beyond the control of the RCIPS but…

    Check the attitude and demeanor of the average police officer in Cayman in dealing with even the minor and everyday incidents that policing involves…the communication and dealing with the public in general…

    And there you will find many of the answers to the questions as to why Cayman’s police force is losing this battle with armed criminals…

    If indeed, in the minds of Cayman’s police…

    Any battle exists at all.

  7. Twyla…

    Have you checked the police budget lately ?

    How much more resources do you think they need when the millions and millions of dollars in their budget is doing absolutely nothing in solving the most pressing crime problem that Cayman has ever experienced in its history ?

    Let me cite just a couple of very glaring example for you.

    The police helicopter that many millions of the taxpayers money goes to keep in operation is in the sky constantly but…

    What has it been used for ?

    To track and catch speedsters, to provide information to officers on the ground but to what effect in tackling this gun crime ?

    It would seem as if on the nights that these crimes take place along the tourist belt from South Church St. to the busy tourist area of the West Bay Rd…

    This helicopter is conspicuously absent from the skies or is somewhere else other than where it is most urgently needed.

    Another example is the police canine unit…these armed criminals must leave DNA and other scent-based evidence behind in their robberies.

    Is the canine unit, that costs a lot of money to maintain, being used as effectively as it should be ?

    Go figure.

  8. I disagree with the use of ‘becoming’ in the above headline, the correct word may be ‘already’.

    A couple of decades ago, a British tourist was shot dead in his car while asleep at a roadside rest area in Florida. That one incident cost the Florida tourist economy over 6 Billion dollars that year. Adjust that for inflation and Caymans tourist industry could not survive a similar incident.

    Maybe it’s time to turn the intimidation around – If there was for example a 100,000 dollar reward offered for information on the Coconut Joes armed robbery does anyone think there would be any shortage of leads
    AND of course, the guys behind it would then become the ones living in fear – ‘Can a neighbour identify me, the guys I was at school with, my cousin?’
    Heck, the guy who sold them the gun would probably report him for 50,000 plus amnesty!

    The gun amnesty we had a few years ago was a good thing in getting guns off the street, but there have been cases where people have allegedly found a weapon and not reported it – again a big cash reward would be worth it to get an illegal gun out of the hands of criminals – plus forensics might also help to link it to other crimes. What about the idiot security guard who gave the gun back to the woman after she tossed it in the garbage bin.

    Many people think that if they own a gun they can defend themselves but the problem is that every illegal gun was once a legal gun – criminals actively target homes likely to have a gun, they wait for the homeowner to leave – the gun is a valuable item for a criminal.

    High crime does not result from strict gun control laws, the crime is the reason why the laws get tightened.

    Look at a couple of recent headlines – Man bitten by burglar, and man in hospital with chop wounds. Readily available guns could have meant two funerals instead.

    The headlines about tourists being fined 3000 dollars for ammunition may actually do Cayman some good – it sends the message that we are a country where gun violence will not be tolerated.

  9. Ricardo, how I feel is that persons who have a better solution than what the police is trying, should make some suggestions to them.
    It is no use of us sitting on our back porch and saying the police should do this and the police not doing that. Many of them want to hear what the public has to offer. All Commands in the force come from a Boss in charge, and if the Boss is too fearful to call the shots then what gets done? Nothing. I am not going to assume what the police do or do not do. I will write about what I see and what I have heard them say, and whether we want to accept it or not, Cayman might do very good with having Top Cops from a jurisdiction who is not afraid to deal with these never ending crimes. A tough raga muffin Top Cop who will form an Eradication Squad of officers who will clean up scrape up dig up and dump.

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