Fighting crime

| 08/03/2012

Premier McKeeva Bush: “While Cayman has experienced a spike in crime recently, it is still much more secure than many other places.  When all is said and done, we have much to be thankful for.” Whilst I agree with the general statement that “we have much to be thankful for”, I think that our premier is missing the point entirely. Watching the world fall apart and commenting that Cayman is falling apart more slowly, therefore we’re better off than most and it’s all relative, is quite plainly ridiculous.

We can all be thankful when we compare ourselves to others less fortunate, equally we can all become very disappointed when comparing ourselves to those better off – if you’re constantly having to compare yourself to others to find something to be thankful for, you’re in a very sorry state indeed.
We should maintain a standard that is acceptable and not let that standard slip just because others have let their standards slip further.

Let’s consider the facts:

We’ve spent $57 million this financial year on crime fighting.  I know some (perhaps most) of this has been spent on customs and immigration and border protection; however, I would be interested to see the breakdown on what may or may not have been spent in the fight against petty crime, which has increased exponentially – to say we’ve experienced a “spike in crime recently” is to seriously downplay the anarchy that is playing out on our streets on a daily basis.

As an example, I have taken to making a note of every vehicle on the road every day that has something wrong with the vehicle itself or with the person driving it. I drive approximately 10 miles to work every day and 10 miles home. During this 20 mile round trip, I spot at least 8 cars each day (and not the same ones every day) with broken tail lights, brake lights, persons notwearing seat belts, speeding, etc.  Just this year to date, had I been a policeman on duty on my route to work and back, I could have stopped and fined 368 persons (this doesn’t include any of the cars I have spotted on the weekends).  Even at $100 per fine, this raises funds (or perhaps pays a decent salary) in a very short space of time.

The point is, of course, that (it is hoped) the fines will run out as everyone starts to once more obey the law.  The only plausible theory as to why there has been an enormous increase in the lack of observance of the traffic law (and this is just one example of the many laws out there currently being disregarded) is that there doesn’t seem to be any fear of being caught.

I have spotted 3 police cars in TOTAL during the 46 (up to and including March 7th) working days of this year during my 20 mile daily round trip.

I know there are many good policemen and women out there doing their very best under very difficult circumstances. I just have no idea how in the past 20 years we’ve come from a society that used to take the purchase of bicycle licenses seriously (and the lack of having a license for your bicycle was an offense) to a society that doesn’t seem to take the purchase of vehicle licenses seriously.

Rudy Guiliani knew he was fighting a losing battle in New York by trying to focus on BIG crime whilst the petty criminals slowly but surely ate away at the fabric of society and slowly permeated every aspect of society.  So he asked his policemen to police the petty “criminals” – all those with broken tail lights, those running red lights, those not wearing seat belts.  I guarantee you will catch more than a few “innocent” people – perhaps single men or women who were unaware a brake light was out (it’s hard to know when you live alone and they have my sympathy) BUT, equally, I guarantee you’ll catch many petty criminals who simply don’t care and perhaps some of the more serious criminals who we know absolutely don’t care.

Rudy Guiliani said, “It’s about time law enforcement got as organized as organized crime” and I would agree – there needs to be method to our madness and not just the madness.

We need people to keep the laws of the road for fear of getting caught.

I strongly believe that this may only be the tip of the iceberg but it’s a start and we’ve got to start somewhere – diluting our resources by trying to solve everything at once is plainly not working so let’s look at the overall picture – choose an area to eradicate and start from there so that law and order once again permeates our society instead of anarchy.

We want to feel safe again – we want to feel protected – we don’t simply want to be “thankful because we still happen to be more secure than other places.”

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (31)

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  1. Legal Seagull says:

    One day on West Bay Road and the by-pass stopping all cars with darkened registration plates (no need for these other than to avoid law enforcement) and out of order brake lights (which are simply dangerous for everyone) would be interesting.  The cars should be impounded until it can be shown that an appointment has been made to repair the car.  Garages that certifying cars with these gangter number plates should also lose their trade and business licences.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well said Tara……..I myself drive for a living and the discrepancies I see on a daily basis are very disturbing.  I often wonder how it is that I alone can see so many vehicles with all colored lights, darkly tinted windows….so dark you cannot see inside even if you go right up next to the vehicle, children and pets sitting in the drivers lap, children not in car seats or seatbelts, excessive speeding, cars with no license plates, cars with discs expired more than two years etc. etc. and there are supposedly 400 cops that dont see these things also?????  We have some very good officers in our midst but the fact is I have seen cops on duty and in uniform in cop cars down in the bush drinking coconut water with garden maint. workers.  I also witnessed cops in a cop car on duty and in uniform sitting having lunch in the parking lot of Pedro St. James and when they were done they tossed the styrofoam containers and cups out the windows into the plants.  This is the highest degree of low-life unprofessionalism and there is no way we can expect better results with such as this on our Police force even at the grass roots level of petty crime.  Until our Police Force is completely overhauled from the top on down we wont see the resuts we desperately need.

    • anonymous says:

      There is an old anacronym in computer programming..GIGO…Garbage In Garbage Out…or in other words, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear…You cannot expect to load up the RCIPS with rejects from throughout the Caribbean and expect it actually produce quality professional work, can you??    20 years or so, there was an overwhelming number of officers in the RCIPS who had 10, 15 20 or MORE years of service and had local knowledge that was second to none..NOW, you have to work HARD to find an officer who has been here for more than 10 years…too many of these officers that are here now, came here from other places in the Caribeean and BS'd their way into the service and LIED about their qualifications and have been promoted and have NO knowledge whatsover about how to deal with crime in a country that applies the "Rule of Law"..no shooting innocent persons in the back when they are stood against a wall, no planting evidence on the body, etc, etc…Point I am trying to make is this,  the RCIPS is a JOKE, a LOST CAUSE, and if you do an FOI request and ask how many officers have RETIRED in the past five years as SOON AS THEY REACH 21 Years, vs how many officers retired in the previous 20 years as soon as they reach 21 years, you will see a VERY disturbing trend..these officers who have tremendous local knowledge and skill are leaving as soon as they are able..and are being replaced with nitwits from other jurisdictions, because as everyone in Cayman knows.."if it foreign, it MUS BE BETTA"…Until we as a community DEMAND that the CoPbe accountable for the actions of his officers, we can't expect better…

      • Anonymous says:

        When you are told by the Hiring Dept of the RCIP, why they recruit a certain nationality, despite being illiterate, no high school diploma, cannot even write a simple statement and just simply could not be a Police Officer in their own Country under any circumstances whatsoever, are hired by our beloved RCIP because they are reliable and dependable.  That is not saying too much then for our Caymanians (young coming out of school or for those that may want to change their career) that would like to persue being a Police as a Career,because we are not from that Country and therefore would not be reliable and dependable to even be considered.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We have a lot of worrying trends in Cayman:

    Some people think some crimes are petty instead of viewing crime as a disease, that grows and get out of control.

    There are those persons who think there is a large gray area between right and wrong! 

    Some people consider that it is perfectly alright for a select group of people to remain in that gray area and commit acts that people SHOULD consider socially acceptable.

    The growing trend of making other people look bad to make our selves look good!

    We are too kind to crime! Kindness kills!

  4. Letsby Avenue says:

    Tara,

    You have been suckered into the myth of zero tolerance.  It does not work.  Other factors were the reasons for the reduction in crime in NYC and LA – specifically higher spending on police.  The long term impact of allowing wider abortions in the US in the 1970's may have also played a part.

    Letsby

    • Slowpoke says:

      Glad to see that someone else bothered to read the evaluation research, rather than just the hype.

       

      Also, even in NY they did not go around arresting bankers/brokers on Wall St. for littering, they targeted neighborhoods where they knew crime and drug trafficking was happening.

       

      Not that there is anything inherently wrong with "no tolerance", just don't assume that it is a panacea for crime issues.  The rates dropped at very similar levels in different cities, using very distinctly strategies.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a strange response. Yes zero tolerance works and the reference to abortions makes no sense what so ever.

      The success in crime management in NYC has been observed and accepted and copied elsewhere.

      There are forces in Cayman that hinder such a program being enacted here in Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Looks like you have not read any of the research which is considerable. New York crime rates went down but repeating zero tolerance programmes elsewhere did not have the same effect.  But looking at NYC at the time two factors were in play that were also observable elsewhere in the US.  First the higher police spending.  Secondly it was approximately 16-18 years after abortion became more accessible after Roe v. Wade.  This reduced the numbers of young men in the key demographics most likely to commit violent crime.  Zero tolerance has almost very little credible criminological support nowadays. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Seeing the silly excuse made in an article on Friday in the Caymanian Compass which indicates that the police are understaffed and therefore can't enforce the traffic laws just makes me laugh!

    I would have hoped that when it was decided to spend a hefty chunk of money on new police cars, they would have also ordered some speed traps which can be hard-mounted in strategically thought out areas, as well as some mobile speed traps which can be moved around the Island. Those cameras obviously take pictures of the license plate along with a picture of the person behind the wheel. In addition, they can mount cameras at certain intersections which are frequently prone to accidents and where people tend to run a red light (think Bobby Thompson/Cricket pitch). Mail the speeding tickets, if not paid by a certain date, the drivers license is revoked (and where applicable, the employer informed accordingly!).

    Then, implement a point system whereby each traffice offense registers a certain amount of points under your name at a national registry. Once you reached a set level of points (let's say 10), you drivers license is gone for 6-12 months and you pay a hefty fine.

    We are, after all, in the year 2012 and it just baffles me that the technology available nowadays is not put to use.

    What the police doesn't seemingly want to accept is that they are also indirectly responsible for raising the next generation with an impression that the laws put out there are just meaningless. Children grow up seeing their parents break the laws and regulations on a daily basis without any consequence – what do we expect this will lead to?

     

    • Anonymous says:

      The level of bad driving has increased tremendously in the last few months. The stretch between Savannah and Ocean Club is a veritable drag strip again – people driving at incredible speeds and driving unbelievably recklessly (even in morning rush hour).   Is this because the police are nowhere to be seen? 

      Think of the money the government could rake in if even half of the traffic offenders were fined.  This is a no-brainer – start handing out tickets and CIG's coffers will swell.

      • Anonymous says:

        Also to the guy, wearing a red cap, in the white car that zoomed past overtaking doing who knows what speed yesterday near Paradise Bar heading towards South Sound at 5.00pm – if you don't value your life, other people value theirs!! SLOW DOWN!!!  You ain't smart – you just a fool!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Making deadbeat fathers pay child support would help too.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am convinced that the powers that be don't want to really shut down crime in the country. At first blush that sounds nuts but with a modicum of consideration one realizes that everyone knows where the crack houses are and where the drug dealers hang out. The outrageous flaws in the collection of evidence all these things are straight forward and basic police work for departments everywhere in the world,

    The police could clamp down on the known violent criminals in this small society and chase foreign criminal elements out of the country by making it clear that it is no longer business as usual.

    None of this is done and one can only wonder why?

  8. Unison says:

    Tina, I believe in obeying the law, but whenever the system is broken and cost of living high, for many who are not well-off, it makes it hard to obey the law. Why do I say that?  Because for instance, I tried buying a part for my car that was needed to pass its inspection. Richie rich came before me and he passed the inspection because he could easily afford it. He is such a law-abiding citizen I believe he is going to heaven. But as for me, I must be going to hell, because that car part is not bought yet and I can't legally drive the car on the road without the part. So there are many people I know out there who are suffering from the cost of living. Tina, the system is broken, and whenever you have a broken system, you will folk breaking the laws. Are they doing wrong in breaking the law?  From a legal point of view, yes!  From a moral point of view, I say that is up to the individual circumstance. We can easily judge other people, but we don't know when we are not in their shoes, experiencing their life firsthand. Great article though, but I have to stress that a bloated police service like the one we have now (asking for more officers) to fight crime is not the sole answer to the problem of crime and traffic offences. Our economy has to be improved; or, some can only continue until a breaking point and then there is nothing to stop them, because they are convinced that they are getting in trouble anyways so why must they try to avoid it!  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only person that thinks this piece is ridiculous scaremongering of the highest order?  Tara has completely ignored the recent statistic that crime had fallen by 1.3%.  This doesn't seem like an "exponential" increase to me!

     

    Furthermore she has presented no evidence of her claims that crime is unacceptably high in comparison to history or any other country.  People's perception of the crime rate will rise and fall depending on recent history but this isnot a good way to judge either whether crime is more or less of a problem, or whether any initiative has been a success or failure. 

     

    The fact is that fighting crime with money is very very difficult.  Consider your common or garden burglary.  The burglars break into an unoccupied house under cover of darkness and abscond with something of value.  There are no witnesses.  What can the police realistically do?  Even if there is a witness that reports it immediately the culprits will be long gone by the time they get there.  Forensics can only accomplish so much.  The chances of solving the crime are low.  Now ask yourself what they could do if they doubled the size of the police force?  Do you honestly think that being stopped for speeding last week will make the criminal think twice before robbing the house?  Come on.

     

    If crime is a serious problem, ask yourself why we are (generally speaking) not afraid to walk the streets, during the day or during the night?  Or why you can inadvertently leave your car door unlocked and return to find all your possessions present and correct.  In most cities and many towns round the world you'd be lucky to find your possessions there even if you had locked your car. 

     

    The answer to the problem of crime is to improve the economy and the social safety net.  You need to address the causes, not the symptoms.

     

    No more scare mongering please.  Either consider/present proper data to support your claims or spend your time on other things. 

     

    "We have nothing to fear but fear itself".  Well done for stoking the fear. 

    • Anonymous says:

      My suspicion is that you are a real estate salesperson will know for their honesty or your condo on 7 mile beach has security.

      As you seem blissfully unaware let me advise you that there are people in the Cayman Islands that live in fear of crime. Then ask yourself how is it that you do not know this?

    • Anonymous says:

      Thankyoufor your contribution Bushit.

    • Anonymous says:

      You ask, "If criminals break into a home under cover of darkness, how do you catch them?"

      Well how do other countries catch them and how could we catch them?

      First let's assume there were no witnesses and no CCTV in the street. Let us also assume they did not leave tire prints, foot prints, finger prints or even dead skin that could be traced by DNA.

      (We do take the finger prints and DNA of convicted criminals don't we?)

      What have they stolen? Could a list be published of stolen property so people could look out for it?

      Of course cash is untraceable, but in other countries the police force check out local pawn shops, eBay and other places where such things can be sold for cash.

      There are no pawn shops in Cayman but we do have eCay. Does anyone check to see if the 40" Samsung TV that was just stolen has suddenly been offered for sale on eCay, at garage sales etc?

      Who suddenly has a new gold watch or Game Boy when they don't seem to have enough cash to buy one?

      Is receiving stolen property a crime in Cayman?

       

  10. Anonymous says:

    Couldn't agree more.  Another suggestion.  Why don't the police bait theives.  In this day and age of technology it would very easy and cheap to put a LOJACK type of electronic tracking device on high theft items such as bicycles, scooters, outboard motors, etc.  As soon as a tagged device gets taken simply track it to theives location.  My bet is they would probably find loads of other stolen and or illegal goods.  As soon as it became known that this was going on, the incident of theft would drop.

  11. Animaliberator says:

    Thank you Tara for repeating what so many others before you have stated over and over again. Perhaps if we take turns and keep hammering on all this, maybe, just maybe we'll get somewhere some day.

    You having put forward a number of things humans do to humans and the enviroment in your article, allow me to throw in the mix (again too), how the RCIPS follows up on abuse/cruelty/killing of our beloved pets such as the 4 family dogs that got poisoned in their own yard in North Side last year, the killed blue iguana's in their holding pens before that and numerous other poisonings and cases of abuse and cruelty: Answer: Zip, nothing. Virtually no case to date has been followed up on either by the RCIPS nor the DoA animal welfare officer.

    I do believe the priority should lie in persuing and proscecuting serious crimes such as killings (human and animal alike) and work our way down as we indeed have an apparent  shortage of well trained law enforcement officers, those who know how to go about these matters with enough interest of actually doing what they are paid to do.

    And last but not least, we the people can and should all ware the same hat and report any witnessed crime of any kind to the authorities without delay. And to be boring, I shall once again state the phrase once said by Albert Einstein as it can never be said enough:

    "The world is a dangerous place, not caused by those who do evil but by those who look on and do nothing".

  12. Anonymous says:

    Of course the Premier's statement is ridiculous – all of them are.

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

      Sound bite, to late, repeat of old sound bites from Bush. Why did not Bush and his cronie/mla's stand up and demand that crime be attacked and addressed years ago before it got to present levels. Why because they were leading for themselves and not the people and Bush controls the mla's. What leaders in their right mind would not want to press The UK, The Governor and The Commissioner to stop crime. We have had complacent leaders re crime for years now and the common man, woman, child and our tourists are paying for this behavior.

      Lachlan MacTavish

  13. Anonymous says:

    BINGO!  You nailed it on the head.  It starts with the small stuff, and I too spot things that aren't law abiding every day.

    1. Driving on the shoulder….

    2. Pulling over along side the road or better yet, parking on the road to let someone out.

    3. Talking non-stop while you drift from lane to lane

    Come out Prospect someday Mr. Policeman/woman and PLEASE PLEASE stop the people who feel like they can drive OFF the road to bypass the entire road.  These people are going to KILL people standing alongside the road.

    And I might add I do NOT think these drivers are Caymanians (and yes I am an expat myself!).  In fact, I am pretty sure by the way they drive, they must have never driven a car before getting here.

    • Anonymous says:

      well… they should have made wider roads to reduce traffic volume, but it is too late now for that!

      • Anonymous says:

        A classic blame someone else line. If blaming others was an Olympic sport Cayman would field a strong team.

    • Anonymous says:

      Must have got the thumbs down for admitting that I am an expat and that these drivers aren't Caymanians.  This is why expats leave Cayman because they do everything they can to help out, and consistenly bashed for it.  It is a shame Caymanians are allowing the country to be overun by the lawlessness that exists in other Caribbean nations.  I do hope the history of the Cayman Islands will tell a different story, but have a feeling that it will continue to be overrrun and eventually just be expats here from other countries where the law doesn't apply.  Welcome to the third highest murder captial in the world and all are in the Caribbean.  Shame really for indigenious Caymanians who actually wanted their country to be something other than a typical Caribbean nation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Its more of a shame that wanting their country to be something and doing something about it is two very different things.  It would appear to any "outsider" that Cayman is just the way Caymanians want it.  A place where even the uneducated and morally challenged can have it all.  By just takeing it from everyone else.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am so in agreement with you Tara. Add to your suggestions the inforcement of fines for littering, and we could erase our deficit.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Where are the RCIP I almost never see them? 300 – 400 officers? They must be somewhere.

  16. Dare to Dream says:

    You are so right.  We should be researching the best place on Earth to live, see what they do there and how the do it – then try to emulate them.  Comparing ourselves to the worse and making a note that we are not as bad as – is absolutely ludicrus.  We were one of the best in many ways and we can be that again.  I agree that starting to put the "petty stuff "in order will go a long way in sorting out the "huge stuff" . To your list I would like to addtalking on the phone while driving- even though a law was just passed drivers are still doing it.  I still see them throwing  garbage out of their windows but apparently the policemen don't ever see it..  I cannot recall ever hearing of anyone being charged.