Archive for October 25th, 2013

I have a dream …

| 25/10/2013 | 119 Comments

When you’re a kid, your parents would always tell you that you could be anything you wanted to be. At that age, what you wanted to be when you were older would change all the time – one day it was a police officer; the next a firefighter, doctor or even a soccer player. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I truly knew what it was that I was destined to do and that was to become a Crime Scene Investigator.

Although many people would try to discourage me against pursuing such a “different” career, I wouldn’t let anyone or anything change my mind. Everyone around me wanted to study Business Administration or Accounting or Finance but I knew that I would never be happy if I was to do the same.

In 2009, I was granted a Government scholarship to pursue my Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science. I was ecstatic as I knew that I was one step closer to reaching my dream. In 2012, I was given the opportunity to complete my internship with the Scientific Support Branch here in the Cayman Islands and it was truly an invaluable experience which enabled me to further expand my knowledge in the field of forensics.

It has been over a year now since I’ve graduated from University with my Bachelor’s degree and it seems like I am nowhere closer to becoming the Crime Scene Investigator that I so wanted to be for many years now, instead I feel like I am moving further and further away from my dream. I have made numerous attempts to secure a position with the RCIPS Scientific Support Branch but have been unsuccessful. Many people have promised that they would try to assist me in the matter however; I have yet to receive any promising responses.

I know for a fact that this unit currently has 7 employees – 2 of which are Caymanians and 5 which are expatriates. How is it that as a Caymanian who is qualified and willing to do the job, I cannot be given the chance to do so? I know I don’t have years of experience, but we all have to start somewhere. If I can’t be given the opportunity then how will I ever get the experience I need?

I know many people reading this article will think that I am trying to force someone’s hand or get my way, but I am just frustrated to know that I cannot even get the opportunity in my own island to use the knowledge and skills that I have obtained. Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than when I am talking about “forensics”. There is not anything in this world that would make me happier than to be in this career. My passion and love for it is what has driven me to continue to fight for what I want.

I am not just writing this for myself but for all of those people that know how it feels to put so much effort into achieving a goal to sometimes feel like you have totally wasted your time. Why is it that we are encouraged to pursue degrees by teachers, parents and family members yet many of us cannot find a job when we return home? It makes you wonder if it even makes sense to obtain a degree anymore.

I read the news everyday and it hurts me to see how much crime continues to increase. It has always been my dream to work in the Cayman Islands and I would just love to be given the chance to demonstrate my skills and show that I have what it takes. 

I am one of the few proud Caymanians who can say I have a “unique” degree and I’d hate to see all my hard work and knowledge go down the drain with my dream. 

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Cops bust another suspected drug dealer

| 25/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police say they have arrested another West Bay man on suspicion of drug dealing following a second raid in the district this week. At 12:45pm on Thursday 24 October, officers from the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force and Operational Support Unit carried out a drugs operation in Caboose Lane, West Bay. An RCIPS spokesperson said that more than 20 glass containers of compressed ganja were seized from the property and a 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of ganja with intent to supply and consumption. In a separate incident, a man was also arrested last night in Bodden Town for possession of what was described as “not a substantial amount” of ganja and cocaine.

The police said that the ganja seized in the West Bay operation weighed around 10lbs and the suspect is currently detained in police custody. The latest arrested comes following a bust in the Turtle Crescent area in West Bay, in which three men were arrested and 150lbs of ganja seized. One of those men has now been charged with importation and supplying drugs.

In the Bodden Town incident, Police say that at 9:15 thursday night officers engaged in special operations to address the concerns around  the Coe Wood Beach area arrested a 46-year-old man for possession of cocaine and ganja. He was later released on police bail.

Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks said, “Although it was not a substantial amount, we will address all breaches of the law, whether it be misuse of drugs or anti-social behaviour.  Matters that concern the public are of paramount importance and I would ask anyone who wishes to report anti-social or illegal activity to contact Bodden Town police station.”

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Man charged with drug dealing following 150lb haul

| 25/10/2013 | 3 Comments

(CNS): One of three men arrested following a police raid in West Bay early Tuesday has been charged with importation of ganja, possession with intent to supply ganja, and possession of ganja. The 27 year old man is expected in court today (Friday 25 Oct) in connection with a drugs haul in the district. Police said that the two other men aged 26 and 52 who were also arrested have been released on police bail while enquiries continue. Officers from the Drug and Serious Crime Task Force, Operational Support Unit, K-9 and Uniform Support Group searched a number of homes in the Turtle Crescent area of the district on Tuesday and recovered 150lbs of ganja was seized and three men taken into custody.

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Cash-for-food mugging in GT

| 25/10/2013 | 67 Comments

(CNS): A man armed with a machete, who appeared to want nothing more than some money for food, mugged another man outside a George Town bar last night. RCIPS detectives say they are investigating another robbery after the customer at a waterfront bar was confronted by a masked man Thursday. The local man was sitting at the bar inside Rackams at around midnight last night when he was approached by another man carrying a blade, believed to be a machete. After the suspect demanded money for food, the customer then took money from his wallet and handed it to the suspect, who then ran off.  The suspect is 5’7” to 5’8” and he was wearing a black hoody and jeans pants and had a red bandana covering his face.

Anyonewho witnessed the incident, or has any information which could assist he police, is asked to call George Town CID on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS).


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Memorial bike race to raise cash for heart fund

| 25/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(531CCC): This weekend will see the return of the most intense race on the Cayman Islands cycling calendar, The Beatman Ebanks Memorial Velo Festival.  First held in 2011, the event comprises three races over two days starting this Saturday morning at 6:30am with a 10 mile Individual time trial starting at Frank Sound Junction followed by a criterium in central George Town at 4:30pm. The event culminates with a 65 mile road race at 6:30am on Sunday starting and ending at West Shore Centre. The late Phillip ‘Beatman’ Ebanks was a well-known and loved businessman and cyclist/sportsman throughout the Cayman Islands.

He assisted many of Cayman top cyclists, some of whom became Olympians. He was a unique, funny, kind gregarious and generous individual.  Despite being physically fit however, he was diagnosed and eventually died of ‘Heart Disease’ on 26 October 2006. This year’s race weekend also coincides the anniversary of his death.

Heart and circulatory disease, known as cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the #1 health problem in the Cayman Islands/world which causes early deaths, long-term disabilities and widespread suffering. To help bring awareness to this disease we have once again teamed up with the Heart Health Centre, founded by Beatman’s son Phillip, to put on a cycling event in his memory, which we aim to make it an annual event.

"Seven years ago, my father died at a very young age due to heart disease, this despite being an avid cyclist and long distance walker who exercised regularly, until his first heart attack,” said Phillip. “He was not a smoker or a drinker, either.  This event in his memory, which The Heart Health Centre, and our sister companies, is pleased to support is particularly fitting considering his long standing involvement in cycling over the years. I hope that more than just an event in his memory, however, that it may also be a reminder for people to be proactive about their own heart health – by eating a healthy diet, exercising daily and being screened regularly for heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol."

The  event organizer Barry Jones added:  “It is really a pleasure to put on this event because Beatman was well know to me and was instrumental in my development as a cyclist and many of Cayman’s Olympic cyclist including the likes of CICA President Craig Merren. The first staging of the event was highly successful and we are once again adding an international flare by inviting some of Jamaica’s top male and female cyclist including Marloe Rodman who finished 4th in the road race at last weekend Caribbean Championship and who is respected on the international cycling scene. We expect to have 3 males 2 females from Jamaica to be part of the event.

“As with the first event we will also have fun activities for the kids at the criterium in George Town. The criterium or ‘crit’ as it is known is fast, fun and spectator friendly so we invite the public to come out and be entertained”

You can register online at Cayman Active which closes at 6pm on Friday 25th or offline at The Heart Health Centre, West Shore Centre on Thursday 24. Net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Cayman Heart Fund.


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Documentary tells story of Girls’ Brigade

| 25/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The past present and future of the local branch of the Girls’ Brigade will form the focus of a half hour documentary which will air on local television this weekend. CITN Productions and Cayman 27 teamed up to help theorganization share its story which spans almost seven decades in Cayman. The documentary charts the 67 years from the Girls’ Brigade mission when it was started by Olive Miller in 1946 through to the present day. Producers said that not only will the show raise awareness, but much needed funds for the Brigade as some sponsorship proceeds will go to the non-profit organization. The documentary will be broadcast Saturday, 26 October at 6:30pm and Sunday, 27 October at 10am.

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Imports fall by 2.3% in second quarter over 2012

| 25/10/2013 | 44 Comments

(CNS): With government hoping to generate a surplus of more than $100 million in this financial year, news that imports fell by several million dollars in the second quarter of 2013 compared to last year will be something of a blow to the public coffers. According to the latest statistics from the Economics and Statistics Office, the total value of all merchandise goods imported by Cayman residents amounted to CI$178.2 million, 2.3% lower compared to CI$182.4 million recorded in the second quarter of 2012. Officials said the decline related to falls in the purchase of non-petroleum goods, as oil related products increased by 1.3% due to higher oil prices but a fall in volume.

With the economy still slow and residents struggling to make ends meet, Cayman was buying less of most things but was also paying higher prices for what it did buy.

“Overall, the decline in the total value of imports was mainly due to non-petroleum products, such as miscellaneous manufactured articles, and chemicals and related products,” said Marco Archer, the finance minister.

Imports of oil grew from CI$38.6 million in the second quarter of 2012 to CI$39.1million this year because of the increase in the average price of fuel imports, as the volume of imports fell. Petroleum products accounts for almost 22% of all imports. The ESO found that food imports also grew in value because of higher prices.

Although Cayman does not export significant amounts of goods, the things it does sell overseas also fell significantly by more than 50%, with six out of ten export categories in decline.

The trade statistics produced by the Economics and Statistics Office are compiled from computerized records maintained by the Customs Department. The records are based on documents which are completed by importers, exporters or their agents, who are obliged to record the appropriate statistical code number against each commodity using the Cayman Islands Tariff Code (CITC).

The figures are used to help track trade trends and changes in import and export as the duty on imports is a very important revenue source for government.

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Speaker’s salary cut as deputy premier’s boosted

| 25/10/2013 | 70 Comments

(CNS): Although there was no pay increase for the elected members of Legislative Assembly returning to office at the start of this new administration, an odd alteration to salaries was noted during Finance Committee deliberations this week. As members examined line item OE2 in the annual plan and estimates for the salaries of the governor, deputy governor, premier, speaker, minsters and all elected members of the Legislative Assembly, it was revealed that the speaker’s salary had been cut and the deputy premier’s pay increased by the same amount. No details were given about the amounts involved but over $3 million was allocated in the budget for the legislators’ and the governor’s pay.

According to documents released at the beginning of the 2009 UDP administration, at the time the speaker was a top dollar post at $171,672 per annum, which included a car and maintenance allowance each month of $200. At the time the current speaker, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who was then deputy premier, was bringing in $161,100 a year.

Questioning the deputy governor about the change to the salary for the post, the speaker did not indicated the amount of the cut, only that her post’s pay had been reduced by exactly the same as the salary increase given to Moses Kirkconnell, who is now serving as deputy premier. Although not begrudging her fellow Cayman Brac and Little Cayman representative the boost in his pay package, the speaker said she was very curious to know why her salary had been cut.

Franz Manderson revealed that the decision had been made by the former governor, Duncan Taylor, before he departed and he did not know the motivation behind it. He said that while he was the one who made recommendations regarding the salaries of the elected members, his recommendation to the governor had been to keep the status quo as a result of the austerity measures across the public sector.

The premier admitted during the exchange that he had requested more money for his back-benchers following the elevation of most of them to counsellor posts but he said his request had been refused and none of the usual increases had been given to members who had been re-elected.

The only two posts where salaries differed from the last administration were the deputy premier and the speaker, which O’Connor-Connolly said she found odd and a situation she had only discovered recently. Querying the arbitrary change, she said she had written asking for an explanation but there had been no response.

“I am not questioning the increase in the deputy premier’s salary,” O’Connor-Connolly said, pointing out that she too had served in the post and it was a difficult job and no doubt the minister deserved the increase. “Yet my job gets decreased by the same amount … I don’t think they should arbitrarily change the speaker’s salary without explanation,” she said as she noted both the seniority of the role and her own experience as a long serving legislator, a former speaker, minister, deputy premier and latterly premier.

“I don’t mind dropping my salary but I want to know why, given my experience, I should be paid less,” she added.  Raising concerns about gender discrimination, O’Connor- Connolly said she wasn’t asking for a raise, just an explanation and “the courtesy of a response” to a letter she had sent to the governor’s office.

The deputy governor assured the speaker that he would find out why the post’s salary was cut and let her know.

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Mac opposes immigration bill

| 25/10/2013 | 125 Comments

(CNS): Taking a different position from most in his lack of support for the government’s new immigration amendment bill, the opposition leader told the Legislative Assembly Wednesday that he did not think the bill would build confidence and would be too costly. McKeeva Bush said he took the position that immigration was not the cause of Cayman’s unemployment problem as the country needed to grow its population. The issue, he said, was the economy and it was by encouraging the right people to come and invest that jobs would be created. Bush warned that it was the type of people not the quantity that mattered and said that Cayman did not need more “cantankerous people”.

Bush said he was not going to scoff at the work that had clearly gone into the bill but he did not believe it would achieve its aims and it was a bad deal for all concerned as it was focusing on the wrong problem. Bush said he still believed that the country needed to grow its population. He said that when Cayman had more people there were more jobs but he said the country had to pay much closer attention to who came in the first place.

“We need to check who is coming here not how many and not bring any more cantankerous people. We have enough troublesome people here already,” he said, adding that he did not think that government would be able to enforce the law it was trying to pass as it would be far too costly. He said hardly anyone had ever been prosecuted since the laws were first passed and the government had to focus on attracting investment.

Bush said people were wrong when they still saw work permit holders keeping Caymanians out of work. “Jobs need to be created for our people and that won’t be done by driving people away,” he said.

The opposition leader said that it was wishful thinking that locals would get the posts held by Term Limit Exemption Permit holders, as it would be impossible to carry out the enforcement needed to prevent people from notgetting new work permits.

“I am not going to support this bill for various reasons, but not because of the clamour but because I am thinking long term. I don’t think it will build any real confidence and the process is going to be costly. We need to build the country and it’s not immigration that is causing unemployment … It will hurt more than help. I hope that won’t be the case but I can’t see it working the way they say it will.”

Bush said nothing had been said recently to make him change his mind that the population base was too small to support the businesses that were here and if people didn’t start to recognize this issue the country would carry on tinkering at immigration piecemeal. He warned that the legislation would kill more businesses and stop more employment opportunities rather than create jobs for local people.

The change that was required, the UDP leader said, was to reduce the break in stay, as he pointed to legal opinion from the attorney general and Lord Panick that he had sought when premier. The lawyers had both said that the break in stay (the time expatriates spend off island so it does not count as continuous residency on the Cayman Islands) could be as short as the Cayman government wanted it to be.  He said reducing the break in stay would eliminate the problem.

Bush said the two issues were unemployment and Caymanians being worried about being outnumbered and reducing the break in stay would eliminate the second problem.

But he lamented government’s efforts as he said there wasn’t any money in the budget for enforcement and he did not think it would be able to get the fees and fines as “no one gets caught”.

He said, “Immigration will be a problem for every government until we recognize where the problem really is. We can’t do it on our own; we need foreigners and their investment.”

Regardless of his indication that he would not support the bill and his concerns that it would not tackle the real problems, the opposition leader ended his contribution to the debate on an upbeat note. He said that, regardless of the law, he believed the future was still bright, despite what he called the “wrangling and jangling”, as the country was well placed to enjoy future economic recovery as a leading tourist destination and financial jurisdiction.

See related story on  CNS: Immigration-bill-passes

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Efficiency key in crime budget

| 25/10/2013 | 7 Comments

(CNS): With the passage of the government’s 2013/14 budget in the Legislative Assembly, Wednesday, questions about value for money over the $32 million allocated to the police remain. With the eastern district MLAs demanding greater coverage and all political representatives wanting more high profile visible policing, the commissioner has blamed a reduced budget and the high demand for services in George Town and West Bay for his limited ability to deploy more police. Cayman’s new governor, who has considerable experience managing police budgets, said the RCIPS expenditure allocation cannot be constantly increased and there is a need to review how efficient the police are and whether money could be spent more wisely to free-up existing resources for front line crime fighting.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick said she agreed with the premier, whose ministry now carries the can for the financing of the RCIPS, that pouring money into the RCIPS is not a sustainable solution.

“These are difficult economic times and, like all public sector expenditure, we cannot keep increasing the police budget,” the governor told CNS Thursday.

Over the years there has been significant investment in the RCIPS, especially in technology and key equipment, such as the helicopter, CCTV and automatic number plate recognition, she noted.  That investment was now beginning to pay dividends following the recent arrests and convictions where the helicopter and CCTV were instrumental.

But Kilpatrick pointed to the need for deeper and greater efficiencies in the RCIPS that would see the money given to finance policing better utilized. Although she felt it was not easy to make a comparison with other police services because the RCIPS had a border control remit among other issues, she said the service was nevertheless substantially funded. As a result, she said, there would be opportunities to improve the efficiency with the use of technology, better allocation of staff and e-government.

Now that the governor’s office shares responsibility for the police with the elected arm of government, Kilpatrick said that she and Premier Alden McLaughlin were committed to reviewing how money was spent.

Obvious solutions, she said, were to examine the broad remit of the RCIPS and ensure qualified and specialist police officers were not filling in forms or undertaking administrative tasks that could be done by civilian staff. Kilpatrick also pointed to fixed penalties for all road offences and digitalizing other services, such as criminal records work and licensing of various entities.

The governor said that the promotion of e-government was going to be major theme during her time here, as it meant a reduction in cost for the public purse and a reduction in wasted time for customers. The police, she said, would be part of the move to online services too. As more administrative police work went online, more cash could be directed at the crime fight, she noted.

Committed to improving how the $32 million given to the police is spent without touching operations or the independence of the commissioner, Kilpatrick also spoke about more transparency and the need for the police to be much more open about what they do. She said the public has a right to know how funds are spent and Kilpatrick said she believed that the police could reveal considerably more about their work without compromising operations.

She pointed to the impact that pictures recently published from the police helicopter can have in terms of reassuring the community.

“The public is reassured by seeing the police in action,” she said, adding that showing  officers working hard on the frontline of crime and that money invested in equipment was paying dividends was part of the RCIPS' remit of policing by consent and it was important for the public to see what they consent to.

Acknowledging the much wider social problems impacting crime and policing, as well as the backlogged courts system and the pressing need for a new courthouse, Kilpatrick said there was still a lot to do to tackle crime outside of the RCIPS. She pointed to a need for a wider more collaborative long tern approach. The governor said there had to be more coordination in the community with the police, the courts, rehabilitation of prisoners and buy-in from the private sector to help ex-offenders find work in order to make future cost savings by addressing the causes of crime.

Nevertheless, in the short to medium term, she said, there would be efficiencies made in the existing budget allocation that would help the commissioner redirect the money to where it is needed most on the front line crime fight.

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