They may have the most beautiful beat in the world, but Seven Mile Beach’s new community police officers say there is serious business to attend to at Cayman’s busiest tourist hot spot.
Police are stepping up patrols on the beach in response to an increase in reports of thefts from tourists, drug dealing and a host of water safety issues.
Constables Jonathan Kern and Daniel Devine, the beat officers for the area encompassing the Seven Mile strip, have been assigned to patrol the beach.
Constable Kern said beachgoers could expect to see regular high visibility patrols on the beach, while marine officers will also be increasing patrols on the water in response to reports of safety issues, including reckless Jet Ski riders. The officers are also working with the K-9 unit in an effort to stamp out drug dealing on parts of the beach. Plainclothes patrols will also be used for some operations.
Constable Kern said the increased police presence was a direct response to community concerns about behavior on the beaches.
He said police management had met with Members of the Legislative Assembly about some of the issues and were trying to get on top of problems before they become more serious.
“We want to make sure that they stay the nicest beaches in the world and they don’t get a reputation for being something they are not. We want to keep them as safe as we can,” he added.
As tourism has increased, so have reports of crime and disorder on the beaches. Public beach has been the focal point for many of those complaints.
The owner of Calico Jack’s beach bar and restaurant, Handel Whittaker, spoke out about the issue in an interview with the Compass last month.
“Almost every cruise ship day, we have a complaint of some kind – people being robbed, ripped off or approached for drugs,” he said. “It is getting to the point where something has to be done. I would like to see tourism police on the beach every day. It is something we have to address before the next high season.”
Constable Devine said the officers had been meeting with business owners all along the beach and letting them know they were there to help.
“We are blessed to have some of the world’s best beaches here on Cayman,” he said, “so it is definitely a nice beat but it is also because of the fact that our beaches are so beautiful and so popular that it is important that we do have a police presence on the beach.”
Constable Kern said police would also be talking to businesses who rent watercraft to ensure they were briefing tourists properly on water safety regulations. Though there are no plans for a round-the-clock presence on the beach, he has trained as a lifeguard in case of water-related incidents while on patrol.
He said police would also work with other agencies to help sort out disputes that did not fall precisely within their remit, such as the behavior of vendors and sales people at the beach.
PC Kern said he expects the officers, supported by axillary constables, will fine-tune their strategies ahead of what is expected to be a record-breaking tourism season this winter.
“Come October, November, it is going to be full of people,” he said. “It will be good to find out what is working and not working before we get 5,000 people on the beach.”
To report issues around crime or antisocial behavior on the beaches contact Constable Daniel Devine on 928-5391 or at [email protected] or Constable Kern on 926-8878 or at [email protected] Call 911 in emergencies.