The newest graduates at the Prison Service are, from left, top row, Tavarist Fowler, Avery Ebanks, Derick Johnson, Lowell Connor and Dewayne Brown; bottom row, Ashley Ebanks, Gerald Otieno, Jerome Burrowes and Tracy-Ann Langford-Bodden.

The Cayman Islands Prison Service has nine new officers.

The Prison Service has an annual class of recruits, and this year’s recruits were selected from a field of 207 applicants.

The newest officers – seven men and two women – separated themselves with superior performance during 10 weeks of training, and received their graduation certificates at a May 30 ceremony at the White House in Bodden Town, a press release from the Prison Service states.

Michael Nixon, acting chief officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs, addressed the graduates at the ceremony, and Director of Prisons Neil Lavis was welcomed them to the service.

The newest Operational Support Grade (OSG) Officers are: Tavarist Fowler, Avery Ebanks, Derick Johnson, Lowell Connor, Dewayne Brown, Ashley Ebanks, Gerald Otieno, Jerome Burrowes and Tracy-Ann Langford-Bodden.

Training manager Steven Hansen selected Mr. Burrowes as the Top Recruit and Best in Drill, and Mr. Connor and Ms. Ebanks shared the award for the Most Improved Recruit.

Mr. Burrowes was chosen to deliver the commencement speech, and Mr. Ebanks gave a note of thanks at the end of the ceremony.

The new officers demonstrated the skills they learned during training and were handed their certificates by Franz Manderson, the deputy governor and head of civil service.

Mr. Lavis said there will be no more hiring this year unless the service receives more funding, but he’s pleased with his new recruits.

“It’s a tough process and there were a large number that went through the process,” he said. “We did target local people, and all the Caymanians that completed the process were hired.”

Of the nine recruits, four are Caymanian and one is a permanent resident.

Mr. Lavis told the Cayman Compass he was proud of the composition of his class.

“It’s really important,” he said of recruiting locally. “We’ve tried to increase the number of Caymanians in the service and that’s an ongoing thing. When I was recruiting last year, I went on the radio and I said I welcome local applicants. We’ve tried to help them and support them.”

He said he will continue to try and increase the number of Caymanians in the prison service. He also said that he would love to be able to add even more members to his staff but will probably not have another opportunity until next year.

“We’ve had no increase in staffing numbers in the last four years,” he said. “We had an independent review of staffing levels, but we’re still staffed short. And obviously we have the added responsibility of running the immigration detention center and the juvenile unit. We are very stretched.”

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