Questions have been raised over the slow pace of Cayman’s planned CCTV upgrade. So far, less than 25% of the cameras have been switched for higher definition, higher resolution models – around two years after money was allocated for the project.
Opposition legislators cited numerous examples of crimes taking place in the vicinity of existing cameras and the CCTV footage not proving useful to police, as they called for more urgency on the upgrades during a Finance Committee debate Monday.
East End legislator Arden McLean questioned why only 52 of Cayman’s 293 CCTV cameras had been upgraded.
“We all agreed on having these cameras, the best in the world. Why have more cameras not been changed?” he asked.
Julian Lewis, director of Public Safety Communication, said there had been a significant amount of market research to find the right cameras with the right “megapixel rates”. He said an initial request for proposals had been pushed back, but said it was important to get the right technology that would last the island for the next seven to ten years.
He acknowledged there had been “significant delays” in the process and suggested there had also been issues around fibre and wireless connectivity.
He added that it was a time-consuming process to replace all the cameras.
“I am not sure I can agree with you that all 293 should have been changed. There is a lot more time involved in changing each location,” Lewis said.
The eventual aim is to upgrade all of Cayman’s cameras and add between 50 and 60 additional cameras to the network.
Lewis said the original cameras had served their purpose but better technology was now available. He said the newer cameras would provide clearer images to police in the aftermath of crimes but would not be used for traffic enforcement.
The legislators voted to approve $1.2 million in public spending on upgrades to the CCTV hardware during 2019.
Premier Alden McLaughlin first highlighted the need for an islandwide CCTV upgrade at a police meeting in 2015.
Speaking about the reluctance of witnesses to come forward in the wake of gang shootings, McLaughlin said better camera coverage was needed.
“We are going to have to invest more in developing independent means of obtaining evidence for convictions. That means greater investment in CCTV, higher quality cameras and more of them,” he said.