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.
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.