Cayman's safety: Our islands' greatest asset

For most travelers and residents, Grand Cayman remains an extraordinarily safe place – one of the most-secure locales to visit or live, well, anywhere. Our safety ranks among our most important assets (along with our natural beauty, of course) and, therefore, it must be protected with even more vigilance than our fragile coral reefs.

Of course Cayman has its share of crime, and there’s been a troubling spike in burglaries this year. These commercial and domestic break-ins are especially troubling because they engender a fear that is oftentimes disproportionate to the actual threat. Statistically and realistically, Cayman should not even be thought of in the same context as our Caribbean neighbors. Jamaica, we are not …

Nevertheless, fear was evident in the responses we received in our first “Sound Off” feature. As readers will recall, two weeks ago, the Cayman Compass announced that it was abandoning its regular online poll and replacing it with a new feature called “Sound Off.”

We stopped the online poll for a number of reasons: First, it was a non-scientific poll that could be taken by anyone, anywhere in the world, and thus not necessarily a good indication of public opinion on Cayman Islands’ issues.

In addition, the more controversial the issue, the more the polls were subjected to attempts to manipulate the results by multiple voting.

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Lastly, the comments – which were probably the most enlightening aspect of the poll – were made anonymously, and this newspaper abhors the usage of anonymous comments. (This does not mean we will never use unnamed sources in our news stories; we will, but we adhere to strict guidelines for their use, beginning with the fact that we must know who is providing the information to us.)

Sound Off lets readers weigh in, either anonymously or with their names, on a variety of issues. Although we will not reprint anonymous submissions, the input gives our editorial staff an indication of some of what the Cayman Islands community is thinking about particular topics.

In the case of our first Sound Off on personal security, the key elements that came up in several of the responses were how fear is changing the way some people live their lives on Grand Cayman.

It’s not just a matter of people locking their doors, installing burglar alarms or getting a dog; it’s also affecting the decisions people make about where they go, especially at night, and the faith they have in Cayman’s law enforcement and judicial systems.

During his year as president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, Johann Moxam spoke about the dangers of accepting the current levels of crime as “the new normal.”

“If the Cayman Islands has reached a point where we are desensitized to the daily media reports on criminal activity, living in fear behind burglar bars and hiding in our gated communities, we have lost the battle, and that is unacceptable,” he said about a year ago.

Of course, Mr. Moxam was correct. No one should be comfortable, ever, with lowering our standards to a “new normal” of social dysfunction.

If the Cayman Islands is to continue to thrive as a financial and tourism center, we must put addressing crime near the top of our list of priorities. Providing an environment that is both actually safe and perceptually safe is paramount in enticing new visitors to the islands and in attracting the kind of talent needed to stay competitive in our financial services industry.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick has remarked about the competitive advantage the Cayman Islands enjoys over many of our regional neighbors, since our residents and visitors can walk our streets and our beaches without fear or trepidation.

Our security is a treasure we must protect – and should promote – at all costs.

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  1. I write from the perspective of a long-time and frequent visitor to the Cayman Islands. When my wife and I are not scuba diving, we enjoy driving around the islands. We have never had a problem with crime on any of our visits but we have noted serious changes. When we first came to Grand Cayman, a trip to the post office in Hell, in the middle of West Bay, was a must. That stopped a long time ago. Visiting the bars and restaurants around Georgetown was common awhile ago. Not now after the brazen robberies of some of those establishments while patrons were inside. As the article states, these incidents are relatively few and far between and risk being overblown. But that is how reputations can be tarnished and perceptions changed in negative ways. It is time to reverse the trend so things start getting better not growing worse. Nevertheless, we remain devoted to the Islands. We were there in May and we will see you again in September.

  2. Gentlemen:
    I hate to burst your bubble, but Grand Cayman is way up there in the crime statistics worldwide.

    We may only have a few murders a year, but that is with a population of about 55,000.

    According to the list below.
    Cayman has 14 per 100,000
    The UK has 1 per 100,000.
    Certainly lower than South Africa and Jamaica. But nothing to really be proud of.

    For a full list:

  3. As a 30 year frequent visitor, I”ve witnessed the challenges and changes of Grand Cayman.

    Perception is changing.

    The Compass has covered the big ones.

    Dump- Trash- Recycling
    Airport / Cruise Ship Berthing/ Traffic
    Stingray City Crowds

    Safety-Crime will always be at the top and would like to know the Government”s framework to address this. Using the words "must" "should" are light and do not indicate action. So I would be interested in the Governing entities telling Caymanians and the visitors who work and vacation:

    the Cayman Islands "are" "have" "will be" which are results oriented.

    My hope is the Government gets out in front of the Crime trend in a substantial way , zero tolerance ehhh?

    In my opinion, It IS the only thing that substantially differentiates you. Now… What can I do to help this wonderful Island?

  4. The Cayman government has done their part the only part they can do and that is fund the police its up to the Governor and the police commissioner of what happens next. The downside of being a dependent on the crown.