New Cayman Islands Governor Anwar Choudhury has vowed that a particular focus of his administration will be a reduction of crime and preservation of public safety. As far as first impressions go (and in our opinion, they can go quite far), Governor Choudhury’s statements constitute a good first step in the right direction, and from his very first day on the job.
“I will not compromise in this area,” he said during his swearing-in address to the Legislative Assembly last month. “It is our responsibility to keep these islands safe so we can enjoy our quality of life and not lose it to crime.”
Grand Cayman’s citizenry welcomes those words, in light of a recent series of serious incidents of violent criminal activity, including murder, armed robberies, shootings, verbal and physical assaults of police officers, and other incidents that in previous years would have been considered shockingly rare, but now threaten to become matters of routine (in the journalism business, “inside news” instead of front page headlines).
Just this week, an armed man reportedly robbed a West Bay convenience store employee who was opening shop. The day before, another man was charged with burglary for two home invasions. Less than a month ago, robbers allegedly held a restaurant owner and his family at gunpoint, with shots being fired at law enforcement during a subsequent police chase. On March 6, in Prospect, a man was shot dead in the street.
A top priority for our country and our government must be to restore the law and order that underlies our islands’ reputation for peaceful tranquility.
Safeguarding Cayman’s public safety and security is a key duty within the governor’s remit and is a primary function of his office.
One early, positive sign that Governor Choudhury intends to follow through on his verbal commitment to stem the tide of crime was Tuesday’s meeting of the Cayman Islands National Security Council (the first since last October).
During his predecessor’s tenure, the council, chaired by the governor and consisting of the premier, opposition leader, appointed government ministers and members of civil society, met only intermittently – an average of once about every 10 months. Children, as we all know, are born in less time.
Governor Choudhury has said he anticipates meeting monthly with the group, which is tasked with advising him on security matters – excepting police operation and staffing, which are the responsibility of Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner Derek Byrne, who, of course, reports to the governor.
Before getting enmeshed in operational details such as CCTV installations, “police sniffer dogs,” or reconfiguring patrols, we would hope our governor would first contemplate our troubled criminal justice system holistically, from apprehension to prosecution, and including adjudication, incarceration and rehabilitation. He should take a “CEO approach” because, after all, in the matter of safety and security, he is Cayman’s CEO. His predecessor rarely exercised her authority in this critical area.
The governor has a fresh perspective and appears to have a sturdy spine and willingness to take on difficult problems, all of which will serve him well in leading – and winning – the uphill battle against crime.
In Cayman’s “Us vs. Them” war between law-abiding residents and criminals, Governor Choudhury appears to be one of “Us,” and he has our full support.