Archive for October 21st, 2013

Fidelity adds enhanced security for online customers

| 21/10/2013 | 2 Comments

(CNS Business): Online customers of Fidelity Bank (Cayman) will now have to plug in a special code for every online transaction they initiate. Fidelity said that the introduction of these more robust online security features, which are effective immediately, are to militate against the increasing incidence of bank fraud that is prevalent in the Cayman Islands. This code will be texted by Fidelity to the customer’s private cell phone on file each time an online transaction is initiated. This way, every transaction will have a unique, randomly generated transaction code that must be entered before Fidelity will process the transaction and this code will only be available on the customer’s cell phone. Read more on CNS Business

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Cops charge TV burglar caught red handed

| 21/10/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Police have charged the suspected burglar who was caught by policeafter he was spotted carrying a stolen TV set along Seven Mile Beach. Chased by officer who apprehended the man with goods that had been stolen minutes earlier from a condo at Cayman Sands Village along the West Bay Road, last Thursday the 31 year old man was expected in court Monday. The police will be hoping this time however, that the known offender is remanded in custody as he was arrested and charged only two weeks ago but released by the courts on bail.  Police confirmed that this time he had been charged with two counts of burglary and it is anticipated that he will appear in court this morning, Monday 21 October 2013. Photos by caymanimages.com

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All murder suspects released, no charges

| 21/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although the police have made a number of arrests in two of the ongoing three murder investigations over the last few weeks, they have now all been released without charge, though two men remain on police bail. On Friday the police released a 31-year-old man who had been arrested Wednesday in the investigation into the killing of Earl Hart at his home in Prospect on 3 October but had retained a 21-year-old over the weekend. However, on Monday morning a spokesperson said that he had also been released but on police bail as the investigation continued.

Meanwhile, a 26-year-old man who was arrested on Tuesday, 24 September, in connection with the murder of Irvin Bush also remains on police bail.

Cayman Crime Stoppers has now posted a reward of $50,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in any of the fatal shootings.

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Cop charged for illegal gun

| 21/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 36-year-old serving police officer on Cayman Brac is facing some serious charges regarding the illegal importation of parts of a gun and is expected in court on Thursday. Although on police bail, the officer has been suspended from duty and has now been charged with one count of possession of an unlicensed firearm, one count of importation of an unlicensed firearm and five counts of evading customs duty. The firearm charges relate to the importation of a firearm magazine, an RCIPS spokesperson stated.  The investigation into the officer was revealed on CNS in September after questions about the arrest were put to the police.

However, the RCIPS has never said when he was arrested or when he attempted to import the magazine. The officer had continued serving as an officer on the Brac despite his arrest and the ongoing enquiry.

The officer is now facing what could be a lengthy prison sentence. The law provides for a mandatory ten year minimum for those convicted after trial or seven years for those who plead guilty.

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Dump solution no time soon

| 21/10/2013 | 66 Comments

(CNS): Although Osbourne Bodden, the minister responsible for environment health, has committed to finding a solution to the George Town dump, known as "Mount Trashmore", work on addressing the capital’s unsightly and smelly rubbish heap won’t be starting any time soon. Government will be seeking a public-private partnership with a company that will be willing to wait for returns over two decades. The PPM has promised to address the dump on site through a combination of waste-to-energy and recycling, and the Department of Environmental health (DER) is now working towards a request for tenders. But Bodden said but it would not begin the project until the end of next year or early 2015.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly during the budget debate, Bodden said the department was working hard to facilitate the waste-management project but he warned that there was "a lot work to do” and government had to work within the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility.

“We have been unable to date to find the proper solution or the right process or the right people,” he admitted, but said it was the foremost problem on his agenda and he was committed to getting the project started, once and for all.

The minister said the government was looking for a private company that was willing to work in partnership with the public sector for some 15-20 years because whoever comes in will need to look long term for a return. He said there needed to be discussions with the Water Authority over the impact on that utility as well as CUC regarding the energy that would be produced from the waste. Bodden said that government had told the Dart Group, the dump’s immediate neighbour, that it would be dealing with the landfill where it is and the developer had offered to do what it could to assist.

Although the dump situation has dragged on for years and the solution looks increasingly costly, the minister vowed to tackle the issue. “I am going to drive this process extremely hard to make sure it is up and going,” he said, so it would be underway by the end of next year or early in 2015.

Until then, he said, DER would be promoting educational programmes about better waste management so that the whole community could do its part to control waste generation. He said that the existing solid waste management system would be reorganised to improve efficiency and reduce risk.

Bodden also promised to address the ongoing garbage collection issue before the end of this month. Government has ordered three new trucks, which are expected to arrive next month, and has budgeted for two more, plus the trucks it can salvage from the existing fleet. So the collection should be back to twice a week before long, he said.

The minister said the existing fleet of very old trucks and the lack of capital investment had led to the trucks being completely worn out.

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$50k offered for killing info

| 21/10/2013 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Crime Stoppers has launched a direct appeal for information concerning the recent killings of three men in what appear to be gangland assassinations. Although big rewards in the past have rarely led to any major convictions, as witnesses are still very reluctant to come forward in these types of cases, the local branch of the anonymous tip line said that $50,000 has been posted as a reward for information which leads to a conviction in the fatal shootings of Irvin Bush, Earl Hart and Anthony Connor. Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers tip line, 800-TIPS, where they will not be asked to identify themselves, only to provide information.

The reward money has come from funds donated to the non-governmental organisation by the Cayman Islands Government. It has been allocated for rewards for solving any serious crime, including murder, robbery or other gun-related crimes.

Cayman Crime Stoppers Chairman, Malcolm Ellis, appealed to the public to call the tip line now with any information regarding the crimes. He explained that callers are not required to reveal any information that could identify them and they are given a unique code which they can use to make a claim.

The Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line is 800-TIPS (800-8477) and is a free local call. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through the Crime Stoppers website.

As police face a significant gun-related crime load at present, they are stretched to the limit with the three murder investigations, which began with the fatal shooting of Bush in September outside his home in West Bay. Then Hart was gunned down as he opened his front door to killers at his home in Prospect on 3 October. In the most recent killing Connor was shot dead outside the popular Mango Tree bar and restaurant in George Town on 11 October, when police say there were many people in the bar and passing on the road that could have seen something.

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Baines escapes serious grilling

| 21/10/2013 | 34 Comments

(CNS): Although a petition calling for the removal of Cayman’s commissioner of police has been posted on the web, CoP David Baines escaped much of the expected grilling on Friday when the need for haste appeared to curb the questioning by MLAs in the country’s parliament. Most of the opposition, independent members, back bench government MLAs and even some members of Cabinet had expressed significant concerns about the rising crime levels and the failure of the RCIPS to keep Cayman safe, but once Baines arrived in the LA, their collective anger appeared dampened, with calls not for his resignation but for a commitment from him for coverage in the eastern districts.

The police budget has been cut slightly this year, at $31,796,301 compared to last when it was $33,091,118, but it is still a significant sum. With the additional investment from government in CCTV and the helicopter but a continued increase in crime, the country’s legislators had called for some accountability from the head of police, who was ordered back early from leave to face Finance Committee.

Baines was on a two week vacation, even though there had been three murders in the space of one month and a spate of other serious gun related crime, including a string of door-step robberies and a car-jacking.

However, although it seemed the senior cop was going to have to fight to keep his job, once in front of the committee, the questions were focused on policing levels in Bodden Town, East End and North Side.

Ezzard Miller sought a commitment from Baines for more police in the east if he moved a hypothetical motion to increase the budget. However, Premier Alden McLaughlin blocked the idea of moving money around to top up the police allocation in Finance Committee.

McLaughlin, who heads the new Home Affairs Ministry, is responsible for the police budget. He said that how government goes about addressing the issues with respect to crime and policing generally is being examined and government was going to take an holistic view.

“It’s not wise to seek to address what is a broad range of issues with a stopgap measure,” he said, asking for the members’ patience as he committed  to addressing the situation and getting better coverage for theeastern districts within the existing budget.

Although Baines was given a much easier ride than expected, he was ready to defend his corner and explained that coverage for the districts is driven by demand. With 77 uniformed officers dedicated to George Town and 32 just for West Bay, he explained that around 30 officers covered all three eastern districts, with about a dozen in Cayman Brac.

Baines said operational deployment was his discretion according to the law but if there was extra money found he could commit to increasing the numbers.

Arden McLean begged both the premier and the commissioner to do something to get more police to his and the neighbouring constituencies.

“The people do not feel safe; we hear it every day,” he said, expressing concern that because people are so disheartened with the poor police service theyare no longer reporting the crime. He said demand and need have been distorted, as he complained that he had heard many past promises but there had been no results.

McLaughlin said he was well aware of the need for better coverage and making Cayman safer but he said the Legislative Assembly could not go about dealing with a major national problem with off the cuff decisions

“If we are not able to come up with plan and a programme in the next few weeks then let them take me to task but we can’t increase expenditure in this budget without taking it from somewhere else, “ the premier said. “I am asking for a bit more patience as we go through this exercise as for the first time there is an elected minister responsible for the police budget. I am that victim and I do not intend to sit by and not see a difference.”

Although the eastern members reined in the expected grilling, opposition UDP member Bernie Bush questioned the commissioner on a number of controversial issues. He asked why Baines thought it appropriate to give the previous governor a cow cod (dried bull's penis) as a parting gift when it had uncomfortable associations for Caribbean people as it was used by slave masters to beat their slaves. However, the CoP avoided having to answer because Finance Committee Chair Marco Archer asked the members to stick to questions relating to the budget.

Baines defended the recent crime increases and insisted it was part of a local four year cycle of peaks as offenders were released from jail and, as a result of the failure in rehabilitation, return to a life of crime. He pointed to past years where burglaries had climbed as high as 900, as he challenged the current assumption that criminality had never been so bad. He said the burglar arrested this week running down Seven Mile Beach with a TV set had been arrested two weeks before for burglary and had been released by the courts on bail. He had been in the system since he was a teenager, Baines said.

He said the RCIPS was catching the criminals but they couldn’t prevent them from coming out and the police were not involved in preventing people from becoming criminal or their rehabilitation.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush offered his support to the premier and said he would help government get the budget through but he was glad the commissioner came back as members needed to hear from him. Bush said he understood the problems that the police were faced with and the reluctance of people to come forward, which had been the case for a long time and would not be easy to change. If the premier said he was “going to put his best foot forward with it”, Bush said, he was willing to support him.

However, the petition is circulating at a time when, despite the commissioner’s position, some people feel crime is out of control and, as the head of the RCIPS, Baines is responsible. Organisers said they intend to present the petition to the governor on 29 November asking her to have the police commissioner’s contract terminated “due to his inability to lead or manage” the police or to  “prevent or solve any of the serious violent crimes we have been experiencing in the Cayman Islands since he took command”.

CNS Clarification: An RCIPS spokesperson has now clarified that the Commissioner was on ten days leave and then had been planning to meet with US Federal and State officials to discuss crime in the Caribbean on his way back to Cayman.

 

See or sign the petition here.

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