It has been a little more than one year since community police were reinstated throughout the Cayman Islands, and residents in George Town say they are seeing the results.
“I would really like to say that (community police officer) PC Jackson has been doing an amazing job,” said Merilda Miller, a Windsor Park resident who added that more needed to be done to tackle the growing traffic woes.
Miller was one of about three dozen people who attended a community meeting at Constitution Hall in George Town on Tuesday night, to discuss various issues concerning residents.
“We need to do something about the way people are parking on the sides of the road in Windsor Park,” she said. “People are renting rooms, with nowhere for their tenants to park, and so they park on the sides of the road and block up the street.”
Miller’s concerns extended to the flow of commuters who cut through the area during the morning and evening rush hours.
“All along Oak Mill Street, you will see bumper-to-bumper traffic,” she said. “When you add that to the parked cars on the roadside, it becomes very dangerous for the residents.”
Donald Moore of Prospect said speeding is another issue that needs urgent attention.
“It was about 25 years ago, I was doing something around my yard at around 5:30 in the morning,” he said. “I saw a car coming speeding down the road and it struck and dragged a young child along the road. The child didn’t die, but the accident left him disabled for the rest of his life.”
Moore said the experience set him on what has so far proved to be a fruitless effort to reduce speeding in his neighbourhood, despite years of trying to get speed bumps installed.
“I spoke to the (National Roads Authority) and they told me that least 75% of the homeowners in the area would have to agree to have them installed,” he said. “But I have [not] been able to get the speed bumps in the community. Sometimes I feel like just running a piece of two-by-four across the road to try and get them to slow down.”
Moore called on police to assist him and other residents to get speed bumps installed, as well as to step up prosecution of speeders.
Inspector Dwayne Jones, head of the RCIPS Traffic and Roads Policing Unit, who attended the meeting, said police have renewed efforts to prosecute speeders, but added that prosecution was not the only solution.
“In 2019, there were nine fatalities from six collisions. Two-thirds of those accidents involved people under the age of 36,” said Jones. “I don’t think it’s only prosecution that’s the answer; we need to get into the homes and educate these young drivers.”
Residents also expressed concerns about ongoing drug use in the community. They complained that officers were not prosecuting people who were “openly smoking ganja and using drugs” and walking around with “rachets [knives] prominently displayed on their sides”.
Jones refuted the claims that officers were turning a blind eye and asked that residents step up and call police when they see others breaking the law.
“I cannot believe that our officers would see someone doing drugs or walking around with a weapon and not arrest them,” said Jones. “What should also be remembered is that sometimes from our vantage point, we can’t see the illegal items. So, we need the public to call us and tell us. If we [police] don’t act, then call us out.”
Overall, residents expressed their gratitude for the progress they have seen since community policing returned to their neighbourhoods.
Monday’s meeting also included officers from the Department of Agriculture who answered questions about ferocious dogs.