An influx of 75 new police officers will be used to increase high-visibility community patrols and bolster resources in child protection and serious and organized crime units, according to Cayman’s police chief.

Derek Byrne, commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, welcomed confirmation in government’s budget presentation Friday that resources had been allocated for 25 new police posts per year, for the next three years.

He said the new officers would bring the total size of the force to 454, enabling it to respond to community demands for more local beat officers and target operational priorities ranging from border security to cybercrime.

Over a third of the new positions will be filled by community police officers assigned to specific beats in response to a “repeated and urgent request by residents across all districts,” the commissioner said.

He added, “Overall, with this new level of support, the RCIPS will be able to increase its visibility and meet its commitments in child protection, border protection, and other specialty areas, strengthening general public safety on many fronts.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin, during his policy address Friday, said government would also work with police to introduce new “police community support officers” – a new role that will involve training civilians to perform some basic policing duties. He said a job description had been drawn up with a view to beginning a pilot program later this year.

“Community policing has the benefit of not only utilizing a suitable person who will know the people in the communities served, but importantly the people will get to know and trust the officers. Police community support officers need to be trained to understand aspects of the law and some policing methods, but do not have to fulfill all the requirements of a fully trained police officer,” the premier said.

He also promised additional resources for transforming the police Joint Marine Unit into a national coast guard service.

He said a committee of local officials, with expertise from the U.K.’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, would be set up to develop a “modern maritime safety and security organization” responsible for search and rescue as well as “the detection and interdiction of boats arriving in Cayman waters with illegal cargo.”

He added, “The transition to a coast guard service will entail significant change including legislation and policy, organizational standards, structure and operations. This transition will involve a carefully planned approach over the following two years.”

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