Police have revealed their latest weapon in the fight against crime in Cayman – pedal power.
Neighborhood officers on mountain bikes, complete with sirens and flashing blue lights, have been on patrol around George Town since last week in a new community policing initiative.
The aim is to increase police visibility and allow officers more direct interaction with the public.
Robert Graham, superintendent of District Operations, said the bike patrols, involving officers from the Neighborhood Policing Department, would ultimately be expanded to other districts.
“This is about community engagement and community reassurance, but it’s also about fighting crime because this kind of nimble, responsive police presence has a deterrent effect.”
The cycle squad officers have traded in their regular uniforms for police shorts and shirts, and the thirsty work of pedaling around the district in the summer heat.
Police Constable Christopher Donaldson said the bikes offer more flexibility.
“You can stop easily and speak to anyone, so you are in the community more. You can also reach rural areas not easily reached by cars, and disrupt illegal activities like ganja smoking.”
PC Charles Ebanks added, “There are also burglars who use bikes, and also street indecent assaults have been committed using bikes – it’s easier to catch someone on a bicycle if you are too.”
The officers say being on a bike makes it easier to engage with residents in narrow backstreets. On patrol last week, they say, they spoke at length with an elderly woman who said she had not interacted with a police officer in several years.
“They are really useful for tourist areas as well,” said PC Ebanks. “We can maneuver easily among crowds of people when the cruise ships arrive.
“The only drawback is the heat. It can get a little rough around midday.”
Police have previously faced criticism for a perceived lack of foot patrols in the community.
Mr. Graham said using officers on bikes gives them a greater range to cover various beats and provides another tool to increase community interaction and respond to crimes in less built-up areas.
“It is about making the best use of the resources we have,” he said.