Lifelong North Side resident Alex Johnson started noticing the local police station property looking a bit run down a few weeks ago.
Ms. Johnson, whose mother lives behind the police station on Hutland Road, stops by there at least once every day to check on her ailing mom. Last month, she said, she noticed the grass on the station lawn reaching up to knee-high and the undergrowth climbing to about 5 feet on the fence surrounding the property.
She also noticed the Cayman Islands flag above the building had not been taken down in at least a few days.
“The grass was between my shin and my knee, and it hadn’t been cut in two to three months. Normally it’s done on a regular basis,” Ms. Johnson said. “And I don’t want to get anybody in trouble for it, but a pet peeve that I have is that when you put up the flag of the country …. I called the police station because the flag would stay up there for days and nobody would take it down [at night].”
Instead of just complaining about it, Ms. Johnson put a message on Facebook and gathered a group of about 10 residents to go cut the lawn and chop back the bush. She said a government worker donated work gloves and trash bags and the residents spent Saturday morning doing yard work.
“Mr. [Glenn] Chisholm showed up in his ride-on lawnmower; that made it a lot easier,” she said.
While work was going on, a bemused police patrol showed up with officers wondering why all these people were behind the fence on the complex, which is not staffed by police around-the-clock.
“The two police officers were surprised at what we were doing, but they were very nice,” Ms. Johnson said. “They chatted with us.”
It’s not a task community members would relish doing every month, but Ms. Johnson said she wished someone from the police service could have let North Siders know what was happening.
“I would hope that we don’t have to [keep cutting the bush], but if you can’t get something done … call us … let us know,” she said. “We want to see our community kept up beautiful and clean.”
In mid-2014, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service budgeted to place one full-time police officer at the North Side and East End district police stations. Before that, the facilities were not staffed and were used only intermittently when officers stopped by – mainly to fill out reports.
The officers, positioned mainly for community policing duties, were once proposed to live at the stations, but those plans were never implemented. In East End and in North Side, residents said an officer does not seem to be present each day.
Police Superintendent Adrian Seales explained in 2014 that budget restrictions prevented the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service from opening the two smaller district stations full time.
“We can’t open the police station 24/7, but at least we’ll have a constable in the smaller communities,” Mr. Seales said. “The officer will be doing, on occasion, eight-hour shifts, some days, some evenings,” he said.
Typically, police officers stationed in Bodden Town are assigned to patrol duties in East End and North Side during each shift, but they do not routinely staff the stations, Mr. Seales said.
Legislative Assembly members for the less populous districts of Grand Cayman have complained in recent years about a perceived lack of police presence in East End, North Side and Bodden Town.
Police statistics have consistently shown that those districts do not receive nearly as many calls for service as George Town and West Bay.