East End residents meet with police constables

Police commissioner Derek Byrne, inspector Courtney Myles and inspector Winsome Prendergast preside over Thursday night’s meeting. - Photo: sPENCER fORDIN

East End residents got to share their thoughts with their local constables on Thursday, when the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service held a community meeting at the East End Presbyterian Church Hall.

Commissioner Derek Byrne held court alongside Courtney Myles, the head of the Community Policing Department, and Winsome Prendergast, the area commander for the eastern districts, and they wanted to let East End residents know that they can count on the constables in their neighborhood.

“Do you know your police officers here? Do you have their contact numbers?” asked Mr. Byrne of the residents. “Do you know how to get a hold of them if you need to get a hold of them?’

“That’s the value of community policing. I know my police officer and I can ring him or her. If they’re not there, I can get the next person. If they’re not available, they’ll get back to me as quick as they can.”

Arden McLean, the district MLA for East End, attended the meeting and shared his concerns with the police department. Mr. McLean noted that there has been a resurgence of crime around the Blowholes, and he said there’s been a problem with buses driving too fast around the local roads.

Recently, Mr. McLean said, he saw a pair of buses doing at least 60 mph around the district.

“Commissioner, if you don’t do something about these buses, we’re going to have a catastrophe. … We’re going to have a mass burial in this country,” he said. “It is ridiculous how these guys drive. Those are some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road and they refuse to do anything but speed.”

Mr. McLean also noted an absence of constables on duty on weeknights and at the weekends, and he said he’d like to push for an expanded East End police station at some point in the future.

Ms. Prendergast told the residents that she has done a walk-through of the district and that a few locations – including the Blowholes and the entrance to Health City – will have cameras installed.

Mr. Byrne said he will increase patrols to East End on Friday and Saturday nights and he will seek to ramp up the police presence there in the future. Presently, there are four fulltime officers assigned to East End and the RCIPS hopes to double that at some point over the next year.

“I would hope to put a class of 24 recruits together before the end of the year. Certainly East End and North Side will see additional resources from that class,” Mr. Byrne said.

“If all goes well, I would hope to see another class of recruits in the second or third month of 2019. … I would expect to see additional resources to North Side and East End again.”

The constables of East End were on hand and introduced themselves to the residents.

Mr. Byrne noted that he received a shipment of radar guns that are currently being calibrated, and he hopes to distribute one to North Side and one to East End. The East End police will also be receiving a new vehicle – a Ford Explorer equipped with all-wheel drive – at some point in the next six weeks.

The police noted that the East End station is sometimes unstaffed due to the constables being out on investigation, and there’s a plan to have permanent daytime hours at some point in the future.

Mr. Byrne also said that he hopes to have a community safety officer on the ground in East End in October or November to give the local residents an extra set of dedicated eyes and ears.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that crime is a problem on the island,” Mr. Byrne said. “Thankfully, it’s a small group of people that are committing it rather than a large group of people. The problem we have is we catch them and they go into prison, crime goes down. When they come out of prison, crime goes up. We catch them again and the cycle continues. It’s like a revolving door cycle.”