Archive for September 20th, 2011

Cops pull in gangsters

| 20/09/2011 | 89 Comments

(CNS): Police currently have six people in custody in relation to the recent spate of gang violence after rounding up four suspects this morning under gang legislation in addition to another two men being held who were arrested over the weekend. Chief Superintendent John Jones said that the law relating to gangs is limited but the RCIPS is using it to get people they suspect may be involved in the shootings in custody. However, in order to keep them behind bars they need evidence that they are involved in one of the four murders committed in the last week. Last night saw two more young men shot, one who died at the scene and a second who was shot at least four times and remains in a critical condition. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

In the fourth shooting in six days, Keith Montague (22), who has been airlifted to the US for emergency surgery, managed to stagger from the scene of the killing in Cranbrook Drive to a police patrol car in a nearby street, where he was rushed to hospital at around 9:30, minutes after the shooting. His friend, Jason Christian who was only 18 years old, was not so lucky. The teen, who police say is known to them, died minutes after emergency personnel arrived, at the wheel of the white van that he was driving when the gunman opened fire.

Police said that the two men may have been lured to the area to meet someone and when they arrived the person they were expecting to see was not there and the two men were likely ambushed. At least one gunman reportedly emerged from the bushes and opened fire. The teenage driver received at least one head wound and police say that they found more than 10 casings at the scene where both men had been shot. The officers noted that, as in the previous cases, there was no doubt of that the gunmen intended to kill these men given the shots to the head and the multiple shots fired at the victims.

When police arrived at the scene they also found a loaded revolver, which they said had not been fired but could not confirm which of the men had possession of the firearm.

Speaking at a media conference regarding the latest murder, CS Jones and DS Marlon Bodden said that although they could not say with certainty that the latest murder was related to the three killings in West Bay last week, there were clear connections with the men who were shot last night and the other victims and the timing was also an indicator, and the officers said that there was a strong possibility they were related.

However, they also revealed thatthe white Honda van being driven by the latest victim had also come up in the police investigation into the recent robbery on Friday afternoon at the Tortuga liquor store in Pasadora Place.

The challenge that the senior officers say they now have is securing evidence to keep the current suspects in jail and to round up other known gang members that may be involved in this current spate of violent crime and prevent further shootings.  Jones explained however, that the law in relation to being a gang member was limited in its scope and they would not be able to necessarily net all the potential suspects under the legislation. Despite that, the RCIPS has launched an initiative to arrest as many suspects as they can under the legislation in order to find evidence that may link the suspects to one of the shootings.

Once again, DS Bodden railed about people sending information to the police after the fact. In this latest instance a picture of the teen victim posing with a firearm had been posted on a social networking page. Bodden said that had someone told the police that the teen had a gun and where to find it, the young man would very likely have been arrested and his life saved instead he has become the latest victim.

Bodden pointed out that the police can do very little about these types of posts as the onus is on the police to prove that a weapon pictured in any photograph on a social networking site is a firearm and not a toy. In order to do that, the police need to find the actual guns and they can only do that with intelligence from friends and family or others who may know where the guns are hidden.

The officers implored the friends and family of the young men involved in this gang related killing to tell the police where the guns are to help them put a stop to it. Unlike the people who are committing what they described as brutal assassinations, the police can only act within the law, the officers emphasised. They explained that in order to arrest people they need genuine suspicion and can only then charge the perpetrators with hard evidence.

“To have four murders in such a short period is unprecedented in this jurisdiction,” Jones said, as he pleaded with the community to help. He said they had not in the last week been met with a wall of silence, but police needed as much information as possible to find who has the guns, who is using them and who is talking about attacking whom.

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Teenage runaway missing for two weeks

| 20/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police revealed Tuesday, that they are currently looking for a sixteen year old girl who ran away from the Frances Bodden Girls Home two weeks ago. The RCIPS said the teenager, who has runaway before, has now been missing since 6 September and although there are, at this time, no suspicious circumstances the police are circulating the teen’s picture in order to enlist their help in finding the teen. Police have actively been looking for the 16-year-old Shandi Sandoval since she absconded earlier this month. She is described as being approximately 5ft tall with light brown complexion and black shoulder length curly hair and known to frequent the West Bay area.

If anyone has seen the teenager or knows where she might be they are asked to call the Family Support Unit at 9469185 or any local polices station.

 

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Thieves make failed attempt on bank machine

| 20/09/2011 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Two men who attempted to remove an ATM machinefrom the Butterfield Bank in Forte Street in George Town last night with a sledge hammer failed to breach the bank cash machine. The police said that they were contacted by the management of Butterfield Bank this morning after he discovered the machine had been tampered with overnight. Police attended the scene which was processed, including reviewing the CCTV which showed a determined attempt by the culprits to remove the machine by using a sledge hammer to pry it from the wall, police stated, but the robbers were unsuccessful.

The ATM was not breached and no cash was stolen. Police said that the incident is now under investigation by detectives from the George Town CID.

This is the second ATM this month which thieves have attempted to steal. During the early hours of the morning on 2 September thieves had attempted to steal the entire ATM unit, which was also a Butterfield machine, from inside the public area of the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town.

The RCIPS is asking for any information that can lead to the apprehension of the people responsible for this incident. Persons with information can call George Town Police Station CID at 9494222 or Crime stoppers at 800TIPS(8477).
 

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$50K for gun crime info

| 20/09/2011 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Crime Stoppers is now offering a $50,000 for the conviction of anyone involved in gun related crimes, including the latest gang related murders and robberies as a result of backing from the Cayman Islands Government. Launching an official appeal for the community to come forward concerning the latest spate of gun violence, the Cayman arm of the crime watchdog said information that came through their tips line, 800 TIPS which led to arrest and conviction on these serious crimes would now earn the tipster the new large cash sum of $50K from the original $1,000 reward.

Eric Bush appealed to members of the public to call the anonymous Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line with any information regarding the latest shootings. “The Cayman Crime Stoppers tips‐line guarantees callers’ absolute anonymity,” Bush said. “Calls are answered by our call‐centre in Miami and callers are never asked to disclose their details, so there is no way they can be traced or identified by name.”

Cayman Crime Stoppers is able to offer a reward for information which proves valuable in solving a crime, and callers are given a unique code which they can use to make a claim. They never have to disclose their identity. 

Last week during a debate on crime in the Legislative Assembly the premier said he planned to boost the Crime Stoppers reward. McKeeva Bush had said he would be discussing with Cabinet the possibility of government sponsoring a raise in the reward for gun and gang crime, as a result of the continued rise in serious crime. Over the last few months crime on the Cayman Islands has becoming increasingly violent, with innocent victims being seriously wounded in robberies, the introduction of car-jackings and a series of extremely violent gang killings which began just one week ago.

This is not the first time, however, that large rewards have been offered via Crime Stoppers, with local community groups and businesses raising money to sponsor or boost the reward. Fidelity and Butterfield banks both upped the regular $1,000 reward to $50,000 following armed daylight robberies at their respective George Town branches and dms boosted the money raised by Anna Evans' family to offer a reward of $50,000 for information on her disappearance from the George Town landfill in January of this year.

More recently, Caybrew offered $50,000 for information leading to a conviction of the gunmen responsible for shooting Kemar Golding, its assistance brewer, who was shot in the eye during an attempted robbery at a jerk chicken stand' and $40K was also offered by the RCIPS and Osbourne Bodden for information in connection with the robbery of one of his workers at his gas station in Bodden Town. However, none of these boosted rewardshave led to any charges in any of the crimes.
 
The Cayman Crime Stoppers anonymous tips line is 800‐TIPS (that is, 800 8477) and the police are now begging people to get information to them any way they can in order to help them arrest the suspects, as they say without some form of evidence they are powerless to remove the gunmen from the streets.

The Cayman Crime Stoppers number is one of around 1200 Crime Stoppers programmes in 20 countries. The local branch is a non‐profit civilian run organization but all the calls are answered in Miami, Florida.

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Offshore banks involved in US tax probe

| 20/09/2011 | 1 Comment

(Bloomberg): Eight offshore banks are under federal grand jury investigation for facilitating tax evasion by US citizens as part of a probe the Justice Department said has dealt “fabled Swiss bank secrecy a devastating blow.” The department disclosed the probes on a section of its website detailing the Tax Division’s Offshore Compliance Initiative. In 2009, prosecutors charged UBS AG (UBSN), the largest Swiss bank, with aiding tax evasion by US clients. UBS avoided prosecution by paying $780 million, admitting it fostered tax evasion, and giving the U.S. Internal Revenue Service data on more than 250 accounts. It later turned over data on another 4,450 accounts.

Prosecutors opened 150 grand jury investigations of offshore-banking clients, charging 30 people, and indicting 13 other people who facilitated the hiding of assets offshore, according to the website.

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US scientists testing earthquake early warning

| 20/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CBS): Elizabeth Cochran was sitting in her office when her computer suddenly sounded an alarm. A map of California on her screen lit up with a red dot, signaling an earthquake had struck. A clock next to the map counted down the seconds until shock waves fanning out from the epicenter north of Los Angeles reached her location in Pasadena. Right on cue, Cochran felt her chair quiver ever so slightly from a magnitude-4.2 that rumbled through.  "If I hadn't known it was an earthquake, I would have thought it was a truck going by," she said. After years of lagging behind Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone countries, the US government has been quietly testing an earthquake early warning system in California since February.

Cochran belongs to an exclusive club of scientists who receive a heads up every time the state shakes. The alert system is still crude and messages are not yet broadcast to residents or businesses.

With more testing and funding, researchers hope to build a public warning system similar to the Japanese that has been credited with saving lives during the March 11 magnitude-9 disaster.

Since earthquakes are unpredictable, supporters of early warning say it's the next best thing to prepare people and the commercial sector before the ground rocks. Even a 5-second advance notice can be precious, they contend.

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Kids plagued by entitlement culture, says expert

| 20/09/2011 | 45 Comments

(CNS): As the fifth session of government’s youth job training programme got underway this week, one of the educators spoke of the problem of an “entitlement” to jobs that is plaguing the country’s young people when it comes to work, an issue that has to change, especially during tough economic times. Passport2Success programme facilitator Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia said this week that the greatest challenge faced on the course was the feelings of entitlement. “We tackle this with every group and I think, as a culture, this must be addressed,” she said as 25 new students began the programme.

She explained that this was a problem with students placed in entry-level positions because they believed they were ‘bigger’ or ‘better’ than certain jobs. Ebanks-Garcia added, however, that young people grew as the programme progressed and that most entering Passport2Success brought with them a desire to change.

“They don’t necessarily know how change will happen or what that process looks like, but they’re ready for it,” she added. “The economic challenge we’re facing and the messages they are receiving from adults around them, who are themselves facing challenges, clearly indicate that things aren’t as easy as they once were in Cayman. They now know that they must take a different approach.”

The problem of unemployment among young people, which is believed to be running at around 35%, was illustrated once again on the programme, which saw almost 50 applicants applying for 25 positions on the course designed for young adults. The latest class was selected for the education ministry’s latest 12-week employment-skills training initiative and the minister explained to them what they could expect at a Q&A session at the opening of the course.

Rolston Anglin said the programme’s goal was to empower participants with skills that will not only get them jobs, but help them build a successful life.  He said the most difficult challenge students would face on the course was change.

“It’s very difficult when that change is personal. You see, the only variable you can change in the grand scheme of things is yourself. It’s the only thing you can guarantee and the only thing over which you have 100 percent control,” Anglin added. He also told participants that the programme has not had a 100 percent completion rate since its inception in April 2010, indicating that students who can’t manage that change drop out.

“To make a real difference you need the right attitude and you need to work harder than everyone else,” he said. “Every one of you can be successful. So put in the effort, be willing to change and complete the programme.”

Passport2Success is a free public-private funded initiative targeting Caymanians aged 17 – 20 years who have not yet found suitable employment. It emphasises adult literacy, adopts a practical hands-on approach and uses adult-based group learning instruction methods. During the 12-week programme participants will be introduced to the Labour Law, employment contracts and acceptable business practices. They’ll practise grammatical skills, learn about communication styles, body language, and barriers to communication.

Community service, protocol, basic business etiquette, time management, conflict avoidance skills and motivational talks from leading business figures will also fill the agenda. Halfway through, participants will complete résumés in preparation for work placement, which takes on a new structure going forward. During the programme’s final six weeks participants will spend two days of each week working. 

Facilitators hope that while this new approach allows participants to start their work placement earlier, it will also provide opportunities for in-class discussions on actual challenges and successes experienced.

Visit www.passport2success.ky for more information. Alternatively, email The Wellness Centre on info@wellnesscentre.ky or call Shannon Seymour on 949-9355.

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Paradigm Shift

| 20/09/2011 | 17 Comments

Our community needs to have an open discussion about what we are willing to do to end the scourge of crime. It makes no sense to limit our response to escalating crime to the same ineffective measures. No amount of hand wringing by citizens, posturing by politicians and press conferences by senior police figures will produce the information required to secure the conviction of our violent criminals.

Rewards limited to a few thousands of dollars have also failed to secure the information necessary to produce arrests and convictions. Simply throwing money at police so they can buy toys when they don’t have the cooperation of those who can provide the evidence necessary to secure convictions is not the answer. It is time to consider additional legislative measures in order to get the violent criminals off our streets.

In this Viewpoint, a three part option is suggested based on an enhanced “carrot” for those who assist in catching criminals, a new “stick” for those who refuse to assist, and a variation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma to focus the minds of both criminals and those that assist them by refusing to provide information to the authorities.  Some measures may seem unconventional, but the conventional is clearly not working.

The first part of the suggested legislative change is to provide for a more consistent and generous use of rewards for information regarding gun and other violent crime. Ideally the money to fund such rewards would be obtained at least in part from the confiscated property of criminals and those who harbour them. If people knew that being vigilant and inquisitive and reporting information that might relate to gun or other violent crime had a high probability of producing a significant reward, then some people would be more vigilant and more cooperative with the authorities.

The second part of the suggested legislative change is to create a legal obligation which would require people who have information regarding criminals to provide it to the authorities. People who know or have reason to believe that specific people are likely to have committed specific crimes, where illegal guns or stolen property are kept, or how and when criminals get their guns into the country, must be required to report this information to the appropriate authorities. Those people who have information and fail to provide it ought to be treated as participants in the criminals’ activities, or at least as obstructing justice. Persons who lend or rent their vehicles to criminals to assist the criminal in the commission of crimes should have their vehicles confiscated. Those who knowingly shelter criminals in their homes, giving them shelter so that they can continue with their crimes, should have their homes confiscated. 

The objective of the third part of the suggested legislative change is to encourage criminals to turnon each other and those that assist them. We need to double the prison sentences for all gun and other violent crime while at the same time creating a legislated basis for the prosecution service negotiating moderate sentence reductions with criminals willing to assist in securing the conviction of those that they commit crimes with, those that provide them with the weapons they use, those that handle any property they steal, and those who assist them by knowing about their criminal activities but not reporting them.  

We need to change the paradigm. At the moment there is no downside for individuals assisting criminals by refusing to provide the information necessary to prevent, detect and punish crimes. If people who assist violent criminals knew that they could go to prison for doing so, and they also knew that if the criminal was caught that the criminal could turn them in to secure a sentence reduction, and they knew that they could get a significant amount of money for turning the criminal in before the criminal turned them in, then odds are that more information would be provided to the police.

There are many precedents for creating obligations to assist the authorities and the community when specific groups or even the entire community are under threat. Many jurisdictions impose legal obligations to report the suspicion of child abuse and related offences. Obligations to report the suspicion of certain types of illegal activities are also imposed on many professionals from finance industry workers to lawyers to judges to physicians and dentists and nurses. Some jurisdictions also impose general legal obligations to report threats to the community such as might be created by a fire, by way of example. 

There can be no doubt that the epidemic of violent crime that we are experiencing is a threat to our community. Our response should be to require everyone to cooperate in limiting that threat, and to punish those that side with the criminals.  

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Gun law may be reviewed again to help cops

| 20/09/2011 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Following a meeting with elected and official members of government Monday, the Cayman Islands governor announced possible changes to the law to help police get the suspects involved in the recent resurgence of gang violence behind bars, in particular the firearms law. The governor said it may be changed to allow police to search homes without a search warrant when they suspect illegal weapons are hidden there. Duncan Taylor said it was a priority to get the perpetrators in jail but the police had to work within the law and therefore some may need to be tweaked. He said that although there had been calls for a SWAT team from overseas, he believed that government should work with the RCIPS and give them the tools they needed.

“The purpose of the meeting was to make sure we are exploring every opportunity, every single avenue to ensure we are giving the police all the tools that they need to do the challenging job that they have got in front of them,” the governor stated.  He added that they had been analysing existing laws to see if they “could be tweaked” to help police use the legislation more effectively, and any changes that could help, he said, would be rushed through the Legislative Assembly. “We are going to be looking at all the laws that might have some relevance in this area,” Taylor said. “We want to look at the firearms law.”

He explained that when police have a suspicion that someone may have drugs in their home they can go and search, and if drugs are found then the burden of proof is on the individual to explain how they got there. This is not the case with the firearms law, where police need a search warrant and have to demonstrate that there is very likely to be a firearm before going in. The governor said officials were looking to see if they could address that problem.

“We want to see if we can change the burden of proof … and make it easier for police if they suspect that somebody may have a weapon to go into that property immediately without having to go through process of getting a search warrant, and if they do find something, put the burden on the person whose house it is to explain why they have the weapon,” Taylor stated.

The governor also spoke about the increase in funds for the police, saying it had already made a difference as the commissioner was now able to pay overtime to bring in off-duty officers and increase the manpower. “Operationally we have already seen some impact from the decisions that were taken last week,” he noted, adding that the commissioner had wasted no time in beginning the recruitment drive for the police.

Taylor said he had spoken with people from West Bay and could feel the level of anxiety, concern and outrage about the crimes and the sense that something needed to be done quickly. He announced that he wouldbe going to the district and meeting with local people to see what they had to say and what else could be done.

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West Bay UDP team to hold town hall meeting

| 20/09/2011 | 19 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of the resurgence of gang violence in the district of West Bay, which now appears to be spilling over into the country’s capital, the premier has announced a town hall meeting with his constituents on Wednesday evening. The premier’s office said Monday that McKeeva Bush and his fellow West Bay MLAs, Rolston Anglin, Cline Glidden and Capt. Eugene Ebanks, will meet with the people of West Bay on Wednesday night (21 September) at the John A Cumber Primary School hall beginning at 7:30 pm.

According to the release, the meeting is to discuss issues affecting the district. It did not state if the members of the recently appointed district council would also be present but the meeting is open to all.

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