Although its last two police cadet graduating classes fell well short of the numbers the service would like to see for new hires, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service leadership is bidding again for Caymanians to join local law enforcement.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said the RCIPS looks to begin training a class of at least 10 local cadets by January 2018.

“We are asking young Caymanians to answer this call to serve,” Mr. Byrne said Friday. “Your local knowledge, talents and passion to protect your country are wanted and needed. We are in the process of building the modern, progressive, 21st century police service the islands need and deserve, and you can be a central part of this important and fascinating project.”

The RCIPS plans to undertake significant hiring over the next three years, based on budget documents that have planned for 75 new officers to join up by 2020.

The police force already hired about 20 new police officers earlier this year from a foreign recruitment effort, but Mr. Byrne said he’s keenly aware of the need to get more local officers into the service.

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.

All candidates for police constable posts must hold Caymanian citizenship and be between 18 and 40 years old, Physical fitness is a must, as is a high school or equivalent diploma. Permanent residents with the right to work may also apply.

“There are many more paths that can be taken and expertise that can be developed in a police career now than when I first joined, thanks to technology and increasing collaboration with international law enforcement,” said Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton.

Aside from ‘Caymanizing’ the police service, the RCIPS does have concerns about the difficulties it faces getting younger police officers of any nationality into the organization.

According to a review done by the Cayman Compass a year ago, two-thirds of the officers employed in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service were age 40 or above, while fewer than 5 percent of officers wearing the RCIPS uniform were aged 28 years or younger.

The relative proportion of older RCIPS officers is not of great concern to the force’s senior commanders, but the spare few younger officers is a worry, according to officials, especially as the department considers who will be leading it in years to come.

“As has been the case in most jurisdictions, recruitment can be a challenging process as young people now have more options, often lucrative ones, available to them than ever before,” Deputy RCIPS Commissioner Anthony Ennis said at the time. “[Those options] present less risks and favorable rewards or incentives.”

“It takes a very unique person to become a police officer and commit to it for the long haul,” the senior officer continued. “Selfless service is required, even in the face of danger and an anti-police climate.”

The last two recruit classes, in 2017 and 2015, have graduated six and seven local probationary officers, respectively. Those officers are ‘probationary’ for the first two years of service and afterward will automatically become a full-fledged RCIPS officer.

Typically, RCIPS recruit classes have between 12 and 15 members, although not all will make it through the four-month training course.

In the latest recruit class, which graduated in May, three individuals who had expressed interest in joining the RCIPS turned down their offers “due to the salary level.” The candidates not accepting the positions include a teacher and two accountants.

The five men and one woman who accepted offers to join the training course ranged in age between 18 and 35, and are from professional backgrounds that include banking and hospitality, as well as criminal justice.

“Recruiting local officers is a primary goal for the RCIPS,” Commissioner Byrne said. “While we would have liked a larger local recruit class this year, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and intelligence evident in our new recruits.”

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