Commissioner: Police need ‘a lot of phones’

They have aerial and marine patrol units, taser stun weapons, and computer-aided dispatch systems in their patrol cars enabling them to retrieve all sorts of information from around the Cayman Islands.

However, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers, in many instances, are missing a key crimefighting tool owned by almost everyone else these days – a smartphone.

“There’s a requirement for a lot of phones, right now,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said last week, adding that the primary issue facing the department is the cost of ordering the hardware – the actual phones themselves – from local providers. Mr. Byrne said the “data plans” required for using the phones would likely be affordable, once the department received the devices.

The phone problem affects police on a number of levels. Some officers do not have any department-issued cellphones whatsoever, while others have old, outdated Nokia or Blackberry devices.

Other officers purchase their own Android phones or iPhones to enable them to keep in contact with members of the public who provide valuable information about what’s going on in the community.

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The addition of the WhatsApp feature on these phones is becoming increasingly more important in modern communications.

Many neighborhood watch or concerned citizens groups in various Grand Cayman neighborhoods are now providing information daily to community police “beat” officers or other RCIPS personnel.

One recent case where information was “Whatsapped” involved the theft of a Honda Accord Friday, which was located in Bodden Town after a resident there noted a vehicle that looked like one the police had reported stolen earlier in the day.

Cayman Crime Stoppers Chairman Sebastien Guilbard seemed surprised to learn about the police phone shortage during a recent community meeting in Prospect, but noted it “was not for Crime Stoppers” to judge where police resources are used best.

“If we can help with private funding, we will,” Mr. Guilbard said Monday. “We are currently looking into this, but no final decisions have been made.”

Commissioner Byrne said the phones issue was something the RCIPS was looking into “across the organization” and pledged it was a matter the department would solve.

Police budget

According to government budget analyses, the area of “national security” receives the lion’s share of annual budget funding over the next two years.

Roughly 22 percent of the $1.5 billion the government will spend during 2018 and 2019 on its central operations budget will go on police, fire, prisons and immigration.

More than $56 million of that has been set aside during the two years for the RCIPS, most of it for police protection and investigative services.

In addition, more than $4 million is budgeted for the construction of two new police stations in George Town and West Bay, with most of the funding for the George Town Police Station ($10 million), not expected to arrive until the 2020 budget.

The cost of ordering 300 Android phones for the police services, assuming a cost of about $500 per phone, would be around $150,000.

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  1. Wrong, all calls should be going into the precincts or headquarters not to individual officers phones. Spend money on training the officers this is were the best return will come, get them better communication radios between themselves and headquarters. Telephones are not the answer. Where is the supervision don’t see much of that, how can personnel learn correctly on their own? Give the proper tools to the officers to protect themselves so they can protect us. Would you run into a violent fight with less defense then the bad guys. Train and arm the officers, the response to violent crimes will shorten. Given them the confidence and training to handle the job. Training , training, get serious .

    • Terry, ask yourself the question – what else can you use ‘SMART’ phones for?

      If the do this properly, and Mr Byrne strikes me as a man who tries to things right, this will free up police officers having to come back and forth to the police station to file reports, etc. It will allow them to file a crime report online, circulate missing persons data including photographs. They can access intelligence systems on the go.

      They don’t need them for phone calls and we won’t be able to phone PC Smith or DC Jones when we feel like it.

  2. Ok, I did, First why do they have to go back and forth to the Station to do a report? each occurrence? They can certainly do them on post and submit them at the end of their tour! or a hand off a report to a patrol unit! We, have that, many crimes, here in Cayman? or even missing persons to send out photos? most complaints are incidents that should only require a code! Many jobs are unfounded. If you wish officers to be looking at phones all day, answering calls and additionally be responsible for them, tell me, will they now have two, in their possession, one as their personal and the other a work phone ? would this be OK for you? These officers need immediate communication with H Q along with the other units not to be answering phone calls, will HQ be able to handle several simultaneous calls ? or will the officers be put on hold? or yet get a busy signal? What happens when an officer uses the excuse my phone went dead or I didn’t know my phone was on charge ? All units should be aware of the present circumstances as they work, they should listening and be alerted to all that is going on while they are on duty. Phones would or could create secret or hidden operations that can be detrimental or not known to some working personnel. Are they going to be looking up numbers to contact another patrol unit while they may have an emergency, or while they are or maybe on the chase of a perpetrator? Look, I am for technology when it serves to be more productive. Radio cars can have computers and do all and more that you say, how many men are on foot posts ? Give the officers more equipment, and training to protect themselves and the public from violent situations. Improve their defenses, Increase their response times to incidents.

  3. I wouldn’t use these for voice calls, Terry, that is what radios are for – then everyone on the same channel can share reports, etc – but they RCIPS need to move forward and have the virtual police station in their hand. In fact, forget phones, go for tablets / iPads.

    Share video, photos where appropriate, gave access to intelligence systems, or to crime reports, etc. for completi0n electronically. This keeps the officers out of the station and available.

    You only need drive past Georgetown Police Station and you will see a steady stream of officers in and out where there is no need (and it is my experience that once in the station, the officers be one distracted and dawdle before going back out).

    • This constant flow you speak of is because of poor training and poor supervision. There is no need for it I agree. This is because supervisors do not supervise their men. They themselves from being constables are elevated to the next rank just don’t get the understanding if they themselves were not supervised. It seems apparent they just think and believe it is a pay raise and continue on as before their promotion. You seem to indicate there are a lot of foot personnel? is there? Are you indicating the foot personnel carry tablets ? A radio patrol unit can have a computer in the unit, a tablet, whatever, but the cars can have this equipment and should for sure. But who trains the personnel in use? there has to be control over information and making it very accessible and portable can lead to nefarious use. My observations are the officers are left to roam the islands with little or no supervision. additionally, If they as officers cant afford a personal phone on their pay, then they are not paid enough, having the department supply each officer a phone or tablet is ludicrous. Equip the radio car units as necessary. Have the officers respect their equipment. Update portable radio communication!

      • A lot of what you say about supervision is true and access to information comes with a responsibility – a responsibility I hope and trust our police officers already have… if they haven’t, they shouldn’t be police officers!

        With regard supplying their own phones? Really? Not sure what you do, work wise, Terry, but would you expect to purchase equipment for your employer’s benefit? No, it is the RCIPS to ensure that they supply all the equipment (and training) needed for the effective discharge of their duties. And, yes, proper supervision to ensure that the taxpayers of Cayman get value for money.

        Okay, the last bit was a joke……. Cayman and taxpayer are not two words that one would normally use together, in the same sentence!

  4. I stand strong on this no telephones, they shouldn’t even have them while on duty! Who gets or allows personal calls while at work or make personal calls while at work, there are exceptions. You have not convinced me in any way or substantiated your claim. Proper and updated state of the art radio communications is the only way for great police service, coupled additionally with good continuous training. NO phones.