The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is slated to hire more officers within the next three years than it ever has, according to government budget plans.
A flurry of hiring earlier this year has put the number of uniformed officers up to 379. The figure does not include civilian employees who work at the service.
Premier Alden McLaughlin has pledged to provide funding to hire another 75 police officers over the next three years. If current staff levels are maintained during that period, the RCIPS will have 454 police officers by 2020.
The additional officers do not represent the full number requested by Police Commissioner Derek Byrne in the upcoming budget. Mr. McLaughlin said the request “exceeded the available funding.”
The RCIPS, under former Commissioner David Baines, had just more than 400 officers. In 2015, Mr. Baines said that although he had the budget to hire another 30 to 40 personnel, “bureaucratic red tape” had prevented him from doing so.
The RCIPS has had to weigh the need to hire officers quickly to meet community demands and replace those retiring or leaving, against the desire to have more local police officers on the force.
In March, with 356 officers on staff – about 10 fewer than the department had a decade ago – a combination of local recruits and foreign officers were hired. The majority, about 20, came from outside the Cayman Islands. The police cadet class that graduated in May had a total of six probationary officers. A cadet class of local officers that graduated in November 2015 sent seven new recruits to the police.
Mr. McLaughlin expressed the government’s desire to hire local officers during his Strategic Policy Statement to the Legislative Assembly last week.
“We … had concerns with the request to increase the officer count by a significant number – requiring overseas recruitment – without sight of an overall plan of action,” the premier said.
Including the new hires this year, the RCIPS now has 167 Caymanian police officers and 212 non-Caymanians, meaning uniformed officers are 44 percent Caymanian at present.
Police civilian personnel include 45 Caymanians and 23 non-Caymanians, so the entire police service is about 47 percent Caymanian.
Since arriving in Cayman from Ireland last year, Commissioner Byrne has proposed that the department make about 10 percent of its force neighborhood police. During separate community meetings in East End, George Town and West Bay, Mr. Byrne has heard repeated demands for more police to “get out of their cars” and go talk to neighbors.
“We’re a lovable district, we don’t try to harm no one up here,” John McLean Jr. said of East End. “If they’re not socializing, they’re not going to get any information out of the community.”
Last month, a number of Scranton residents expressed concerns about community “beat” officers being reassigned or promoted during times when crime reports spike.
“You put one here this month, and then next month you move them out,” one resident told Mr. Byrne.