EDITORIAL – Cancer of crime demands aggressive treatment

Public safety is the bedrock of the Cayman Islands. Upon it is founded our community, our economy and our continuing prosperity.

What sets Cayman apart from other islands that have been similarly blessed with sun-kissed shores and turquoise seas is the ever-present feeling of security of self and property.

Slowly but inexorably, we may be watching our country’s most valuable asset slip away, not unlike Seven Mile Beach sand through our fingers.

Last weekend’s shoot-out between armed robbers and police officers is a new and most dangerous high-water marker in an incoming tide of serious criminality. Consider the circumstances:

Czech Inn owner Jiri Zitterbart, his wife and 9-year-old son were closing up shop in their Bodden Town establishment on Saturday night when two men appeared, brandishing weapons and demanding money from the till.

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Upon receiving the report, police gave chase to a stolen red Honda SUV believed to be the getaway car. The suspects fled, first in the vehicle and then by foot – exchanging gunfire with pursuing officers. The two men escaped and are currently at large – armed and dangerous, as the saying goes – among our populace.

The brazen holdup followed another armed robbery earlier in the evening at Rollin Convenience Shop in George Town. Only days before, yet another gunpoint robbery – this one of a 25-year-old man and his pregnant girlfriend – took place outside their Prospect home.

Not many years ago, any one of those series of events involving firearms would have been an aberration, unheard of in our tranquil community. Today they have become commonplace.

In fact, robberies at stores, gas stations, private residences and public beaches, not to mention gang-related shootings and retaliatory shootings, have become such a regular occurrence that on busy “news days,” they may not even make the front page of the Compass.

At the same time, police officers themselves have become targets of attacks – including verbal abuse, physical assaults, and even acts of arson.

To date, the response – by police, by politicians and particularly by the populace – has not been commensurate to the gravity of the situation.

Perhaps lulled into comfortable complacency by Cayman’s peaceful past, our country’s officials have been hoping the troubling trends will simply “go away.”

They will not. Cancers, be they medical or social, never improve without intervention. And we are not talking about divine intervention. We’re talking about a tough, no-nonsense approach from our soon-to-be governor, our politicians, our police, the Office of Public Prosecutions and, particularly, our courts.

Here’s a place to start:

Everyone has heard the phrase “hiding in plain sight.” In Cayman, many of our resident malefactors are in “plain sight,” but they’re not hiding because they have no fear of being arrested, prosecuted and successfully convicted.

Every time a police officer witnesses an infraction of the law – whether it is a motorbiker doing “wheelies” (with no license tag in sight) or a local resident smoking dope or displaying any other antisocial or illegal activity – and decides to turn his or her head, that officer is, in effect, aiding and abetting the breaking of the law.

It must stop, and it is Commissioner Derek Byrne’s duty and responsibility, as our chief law ENFORCEMENT officer, to be certain it does.

Millions of people come to our islands to visit, invest and live, lured by the assurance of public safety.

The body politic, like the human body, can be only as healthy as its weakest organ. Just as a weak heart can kill a person who is in otherwise excellent health, losing control of public safety with certainty will erode our quality of life and impair our island’s future. We must not allow that to happen.

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  1. Cayman Compass , I completely agree with the Editorial. The Government should have seen this crime cancer growing and spreading from 15 years ago, but they thought that the crime issue would just go away , and now we have a much bigger problem .
    I know that I sounded a bit too harsh in my other comments on the crime issue.
    But like I said that some drastic measures need to be done now .
    I think that C.I Government should follow the State of Florida and do a Law like the FL “Stand your Ground” Law and make sure that criminals has no rights in the Law , once they are inside your property with a gun or any weapon in their hand and a mask on their face .

  2. We were recently in Singapore. In many ways similar to Grand Cayman.
    Tropical climate. Tourism and financial services. People from all over the world.
    But almost ZERO crime and spotlessly clean. You can walk anywhere without fear.
    Singapore has a no nonsense policy to crime. One gets severely caned for graffiti or vandalism.
    Heavily fined for dropping litter.
    Death penalty for illegal drugs.

    Human Rights enthusiasts need to also preach Human Responsibility to ones fellow man ( and fellow woman).

  3. Let’s just think about littering for a moment.
    We do nothing to apprehend and punish those dropping the trash but publish cute photos of small children dragging massive sacks they are filling with the trash they have picked up the beach. Trash that someone else has DROPPED

  4. You forgot to mention the most brazen day time robbery of armored truck during which a security guard was shot twice.
    “A number of shots were fired. It was extremely busy at the store, which is the really frightening part. It was a lot of [gunshot] shells spent in a very crowded place.”
    “This really could have been a lot worse.”
    For some reason the story was hushed up and life continued as if nothing had happened.
    Are you waiting for something really big and bad to happen before actions are taken?

    (CALEA) is a credentialing authority (accreditation), based in the United States, whose primary mission is to accredit public safety agencies, namely law enforcement agencies, training academies, communications centers, and campus public safety agencies. What accreditations, if any, RCIPS has earned and holds?

  5. May I politely beg to differ with the editorial’s comment that “they are not hiding in plain sight”. A lot of these criminals go to great lengths to disguise themselves with balaclavas/ski masks/gloves etc. However you do not see them strolling down the road dressed like this on the way to their target. What often happens is they drive there in a vehicle with windows/windscreen so heavily tinted it is impossible to see inside, so they can travel in complete safety until they jump out on reaching their destination.
    Strict enforcement of the law on heavily tinted windows which are so common in Cayman would eliminate this problem, and assist in reducing criminal activity.

  6. Last weekend’s shoot-out between armed robbers and police officers is a new and most dangerous high-water marker in an incoming tide of serious criminality.

    And yet…Minister is more concerned about the smell of marijauna on the 7-Mile Beach .

    She should be more concerned about the smell of …cordite; an all too familiar smell around Grand Cayman now.

    And the potential body-count when the police’s…and gunmen’s bullets begin to find their targets.

    Misplaced priorities ?

    I would say so.

  7. Ron you’ve made a very valid point and suggestions. ..which runs counter to British law on self defense and offensive weapons possession. In the USA state and federal law allows weapons possession for the purpose of self defense…British/Caymanians law does not. This has been this way for generations now and encourages and emboldened those who acknowledge no law but their own…and that of the jungle and the gun. Successive CI Govts have hidden their heads in the sand like ostriches and allowed this cancer to grow and become malignant in Cayman. One only has to look next door to Ja magical to see what happens once the street war between the police and gunmen starts…as it has now started in Cayman with this recent incident. Will this Govt see the problem for what it is and take the necessary actions ? We’ll have to wait and see.

  8. Then Ricardo what we should be doing is putting pressure on our Politicians to go to England and get changes made to the self defence and weapon Laws , instead of going there to talk about Global warming. Because the criminals aren’t wasting no time.