Drug trafficking, terrorism and the growing threats posed by digital crime are among the key regional threats that will come under the microscope as police chiefs from around the Caribbean meet in the Cayman Islands next week.
Experts from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and US Homeland Security will also be in Cayman for the annual general meeting of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Tuesday through Friday.
The conference will have a heavy focus on digital crime, according to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Derek Byrne.
He said it would also provide an opportunity for police chiefs to share expertise on dealing with common threats like gangs and gun crime.
“The theme of the conference is looking at regional effectiveness in a changing policing environment, and a lot of it is around policing in a digital age,” he said.
“There are issues around open borders, free movement, speed of communication, speed of transportation, movement of money, changes in phone technology,” he added.
One global threat that has yet to touch Cayman’s shores is terrorism. And while there is no suggestion that the islands could be impacted, Byrne said it was important that Caribbean police chiefs stayed in touch with global threats and did not become a ‘weak link’.
“We will learn from other jurisdictions how better to deal with terrorism at air and sea ports in particular,” he said.
“There is nothing to suggest it is a threat at the moment, but as people are getting closed out of other places in the world, as the Americans become more robust on border control and France and Belgium and the UK become more robust, where do they go? What are the assets we have on island? Just because it didn’t happen yesterday doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen tomorrow.”
The commissioners are also expected to discuss guns and drug trafficking, a more pressing regional threat.
Cayman already cooperates very closely with Jamaica on efforts to stop smugglers shipping ganja into the country. Byrne said this is just one example of how regional police forces need to work together.
“Drug trafficking is a global phenomenon but it is also a problem here in the region. We can’t deal with it in isolation. We need to rely on our international partners. We need to have intelligence. We need to have information. We need to be able to collaborate. Jamaica is the obvious place for us to work with, as well as all of the American agencies.”
The theme of the conference is ‘Improving Regional Policing Effectiveness in a Changing World’ and involves commissioners of police, senior law enforcement policymakers, security professionals, government officials, industry partners and practitioners.