EDITORIAL – Beach patrols respond to crime wave

Cayman’s beaches, which are our most precious natural resources, underpin the country’s tourism economy, and, therefore, must be respected for the treasures they are.

Thieves, drug vendors (and users), the unruly and the unlawful have no place on what, for Cayman, should be thought of as the equivalent of “hallowed ground.”

Therefore, we applaud the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s resolve to place greater emphasis on patrolling Seven Mile Beach. We have long been advocates of police maintaining a high-profile presence in high-traffic and high-tourist areas.

On the front page of yesterday’s Compass, we published a picture of constables Jonathan Kern and Daniel Devine patrolling Seven Mile Beach alongside auxiliary constables Andrew Grant and Franklyn Smith.

In subsequent reporting, we learned that marine officers, the police K-9 unit and plainclothes patrols will join the effort to increase the security and safety of our shoreline. They plan to work with beachside businesses and coordinate with other agencies to curb reckless jet ski riders, help keep over-aggressive beach vendors in check, and, in general, maintain law and order on Seven Mile Beach.

Police have confirmed that officers will not necessarily be heading home at sunset but will patrol at varied times during the days, evenings and nights.

The new emphasis on beach patrols does not mean that RCIPS has created special “sunshine squads” whose remit ends where the white sand stops. According to an RCIPS spokesman, the beach patrols will be supplemented, as required, with support from different departments in coordination with the regular beat officers.

We are especially curious about how officers will respond going forward when they encounter certain illegal but all-too-common behaviors, such as ganja use on the beach. We presume – and expect – these law enforcement officers will make arrests or issue citations as appropriate, rather than averting their eyes and looking the other way. We want them to be friendly and good ambassadors for our island, but, please, not too much “Caymankind.” Underneath their smiles, we expect our police to be tough – and to enforce the law.

We do have a concern, admittedly a minor one, about the attire our officers should be donning as they make their rounds. Surely, sartorially, they should not be required to dress in “full-dress” uniforms (including clumpy-clompy shoes), as they were pictured in our front-page photo. They look sharp, but they may melt when our heat-index approaches triple digits.

On the other hand, Speedos (appropriate for … well … Olympic competition) are hardly appropriate either. We are personally partial to the “Palm Beach Look,” where officers wear lightweight shirts and “uniform shorts.” Here’s an idea: Perhaps Cayman fashion designer Isy Obi could be persuaded to design a uniform that would be comfortable, as well as culturally unique to our islands. (And, by the way, Isy, we’ll need outfits for both RCIPS’s male and female finest.)

Of course, the true measure of the success of the RCIPS’s beach initiative is not how high-profile (or high-fashion) the patrols are, but whether the increased patrols are accompanied by a sustained reduction in criminal activity. We think these patrols are making a highly visible first step in that direction.

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