Four new police officers have been stationed permanently in the districts of East End and North Side as of May 1, Police Commissioner Derek Byrne announced last week.
Two officers are based out of the previously unoccupied East End substation and another two will be operating from the little-used North Side substation.
Mr. Byrne said while those are only the officers who will be stationed permanently in the districts, he assured East End residents at public meeting Thursday night that they would not be the only police officers ever seen in the outer districts.
“They’re just based at those police stations,” the commissioner said, adding that other officers could be called in should the need arise, just as the police normally would do.
The commissioner said he would consider adding new officers if future staffing permitted, and that the RCIPS was planning to reinstall detectives in Bodden Town Police Station to respond to incidents in the eastern districts.
For now, Mr. Byrne said the personnel moves were being made with no new officers joining the force. He said last week that there were 451 total employees in the police service, including 87 civilian staff.
The 364 police officers are currently “all spread out” between street patrol and other specialist units including the marine unit, detectives divisions, traffic unit and financial crimes, among others, he said.
“I don’t think that two [new officers] was going to meet what’s required in East End or North Side and that’s something we have to look at as we grow,” Mr. Byrne said, adding that he had not asked anyone in government for any additional funding for the police since taking up the commissioner’s post in November 2016.
East End MLA Arden McLean, who attended Thursday night’s meeting at the East End United Church Hall, acknowledged that successive governments since 2009 had not properly funded the Cayman Islands police service.
“I believe that all police officers in this country who are in uniform need to have one car,” Mr. McLean said. “If I give you the tools and you don’t do the job, then you’re fired. If I don’t give you the tools, then I can’t expect anything from you.”
Mr. Byrne said he thought the idea of giving each uniformed police officer a patrol car was not practical and indicated that he was still performing an overarching review of the entire police service, which, at its end, could include a request for more police resources or reallocated funding to different areas.
“But I have not gone to government or Cabinet at any stage yet looking for more resources, and nothing has been refused,” the commissioner said. “When that case comes, then we may have that conversation.”
Speaking at the community meeting Thursday night, Commissioner Byrne said the new North Side and East End officers would be supervised by a trusted, veteran East End police officer, Sgt. Davis Scott.
Mr. McLean said he was happy to hear such pronouncements about police staffing, but noted it was not the first time additional policing had been promised to local residents and then not delivered.
“We’ve heard what you’ve said here tonight, I would say 15-20 times,” Mr. McLean said Thursday. “It’s the same story over and over and the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of any Cabinet we have.”
Arden McLean’s political opponent, John McLean Jr. said he would like to see Commissioner Byrne continue his public meetings with the district at least “once a quarter” and urged local officers to get out and socialize with the community.
“We’re a lovable district, we don’t try to harm no one up here,” John McLean said. “If they’re not socializing they’re not going to get any information out of the community.”
Residents praised officers like Sgt. Scott and Constable Lazarus Moraes for their work in the community and asked that more officers follow their example in the future.
“Lawlessness has really crept into our society here,” Sgt. Scott said. “I’ve tried my best and I’ve had help from many good people out there. I’m looking forward to seeing more.”