Archive for January 9th, 2009

Over 100 holiday arrests

| 09/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police announced today that 104 arrests were made over the festive season for various offences from drugs to assault. Operations Python 2, Thor 2 and Caspian 2 in George Town, West Bay and the Eastern Districts were aimed at keeping the Cayman Islands safe while at the same time deterring and detecting crime. “Although we are pleased with the overall success of the campaign, it is disappointing to see so many people breaking the law and risking their own safety,” said Acting Commissioner, James Smith.

The RCIPS said that 51 people were arrested in George Town including; six for assault, three for carrying prohibited weapons, five for burglary, nine for disorderly conduct and three for theft. In West Bay, 15 drug operations were carried out, 24 drug related arrests were made, 16 traffic operations were conducted, 39 speeding tickets were issued and three people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. In the Eastern Districts, 4 drug related arrests were made, 2 people were arrested on suspicion of burglary, there was one arrest for possession of a prohibited weapon, 49 stop checks were carried out and numerous road blocks resulted in 22 people being warned for intended prosecution for traffic offences.

The Christmas campaigns involved a variety of initiatives including high visibility policing, road blocks, increased foot patrols and intelligence-led operations. The RCIPS sends special thanks to the Special Constabulary who played an enormous role in making the festive season as safe as it was.

“While may people were relaxing and enjoying the Christmas period, it’s important to remember that there are many men and women working hard, around the clock to ensure the safety of the Cayman Islands,” added Smith. “The Special Constabulary, who are made up of volunteers donating their free time for the good of the islands, work alongside our regular officers and should not be forgotten.”

The RCIPS said that efforts by police to tackle crime and disorder will continue into 2009. The recent interception of a canoe carrying 385 pounds of ganja should act as a warning to others that the RCIPS will not tolerate drugs trafficking in the Cayman Islands. The RCIPS continues to seek the support of the community in fighting crime.

If anyone knows of criminal activity taking place they are encouraged to speak to their local officers, an officer they know personally or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously. All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Men charged with drug trafficking

| 09/01/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Following the seizure of a 38-foot, two-engine canoe carrying 385 pounds of ganja last week, police say they have charged four men with importation of ganja, possession with intent to supply and possession. Ian Linwall Johnson, 56; Cornell Alfonso Powell, 50; Arick Ren Williams, 19 and Shane William Junior McLean, 19 all appeared in court this morning. Police also said that two new marine enforcement vessels arrived today which will be used to help in further drug busts.

Police said that the men were arrested during an operation involving officers from the Drugs Task Force, Marine Unit, Uniformed Support Group as well as Air Support through the use of the helicopter.  During the coordinated operation, police, customs and immigration officers aboard Cayman Defender, the newest addition to the Marine Unit fleet, intercepted the canoe on the water.

The vessel was carrying four men and 385 pounds of ganja. The four men were all arrested and both the drugs and the boat were seized. “This is a great way for the Drugs Task Force and the Maine Unit to start 2009 and should act as a warning to others who are involved in the importation of illegal goods,” said Superintendent Kurt Walton. “Our ability to detect and intercept the movement of prohibited items has been greatly boosted by the addition of Defender to the Marine fleet which is set to be boosted still by two more fast interceptor vessels in the very near future. We are more equipped than ever to tackle drug and gun crime and everyone involved in these trades should be concerned.”

The new boats, two 38-foot fast interceptor vessels are the second and third additions to the fleet following the arrival of Cayman Defender in September and are part of a government investment package into border protection worth approximately CI$7.7 million dollars.  Police said that the package includes four new vessels and a state of the art marine base to be built at the end of Hirst Road in Newlands to house customs, police and immigration officers.

The first step to launching the new boats into Cayman waters will be taken on Monday, when Marine Unit officers commence an intense one-week training course with Safe Boats International, the manufactures of the vessels. Covering topics such as boat construction, engine installation and maintence, electronic system management, hull repair and boat maintence, the course will ensure the boats are used to the best of their ability.

“This specialist training will ensure that the vessels, and the Marine Unit, reach their full potential,” said Superintendent Mike Needham, who has led the Marine expansion project for the last few years. “Once they are on thewater, there is little doubt that they will have an immediate effect on drugs and firearms trafficking.”

The Marine Unit has been growing in strength and effectiveness over the last two years and the fourth and final addition to the Marine Fleet, a 65-foot all purpose patrol boat is expected to arrive in Cayman in the coming weeks.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

AG to review SPIT spending

| 09/01/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The auditor general has initiated a value for money review of Operation Tempura and the Special Police investigation Team (SPIT). Following the governor’s announcement on Rooster’s Crosstalk on Friday morning, Dan Duguay (left) told CNS that his office had decided that persistent questions surrounding this investigation relating to how much has been spent and on what deserve some answers.

“While we may not be able to comment on what Operation Tempura is doing, we can comment on how much is being spent,” said Duguay, who noted that the review was in its very early stages as the decision to undertake a value for money report by his office was only made on Thursday 8 January when he informed Governor Stuart Jack.

“This has only just begun and I know nothing more about Operation Tempura than what has already been revealed in the media. I have no evidence of any specific allegations of wrongdoing over the expenditure on the investigation. I believe the people need to know whether or not the expenditure so far is legitimate. I had my first chat with Martin Bridger at 5:00 pm yesterday afternoon, so I do not yet have any details of the terms of reference except we will be examining the entire costs of this operation.”

Duguay explained that the decision was based on the fact that the cost of the investigation is being questioned extensively and he wanted to bring about some transparency regarding that issue. He added that his office would not be looking at what Operation Tempura was investigating, merely what they were spending, and he would then report on that. He said he would look at everything, including what was spent defending Justice Alex Henderson’s application for a judicial review, as well as the day to day running cost of the investigation.

“My goal is to provide people with a clear understanding on what has been spent and where,” he said. “And while I appreciate this is a moving target and one would normally like to do these things after it is over, given the speculation regarding the potential costs, we believe it would be wise to get a better understanding now,” said Duguay.

As well as announcing that Duguay was going to conduct the review, the governor also told the Rooster audience that mistakes had been made regarding Operation Tempura but he did not elaborate. He did, however, say that he still had confidence in the local judiciary in the wake of its direct criticisms of him at the Grand Court opening on Wednesday, and he also indicted that ‘Netnewsgate’ would also be cleared up by the end of this month.  

The governor also wrote to the Caymanian Compass on Wednesday in response to editorials in that publication stating that he was committed to good governance, to high standards in the public service, and that he would not shy away from tackling inappropriate behaviour wherever it occurs, although he did not elaborate on that point or indicate what behaviour he was talking about. He said the intense interest in the investigation didn’t surprise him and was a healthy sign of the media doing their job: questioning government policy.

“But some of the discussions in the media can obscure the basic principles that are at stake," the governor said in the letter. “Once serious and credible accusations have been made – not just gossip – I cannot simply ignore them. Feedback from the public leads me to believe that many people in the Cayman Islands don’t want me to sweep complaints and allegations under the carpet. To do so would be the most damaging action I could possibly take for Cayman’s reputation. Once these investigations are over, the world will think more of Cayman, because we have had the courage to insist on the highest levels of probity in our police service. If allegations are disproved that is as good an outcome – indeed maybe a more reassuring one – than sackings or prosecutions.”

He said he has listened very closely to the public debate on the cost of the investigations and the length of time they are taking.

“We will continue to look very closely at the costs. It is not easy to put active investigations on a definite timetable anywhere in the world. The police cannot simply ignore any new allegations because they arise at an inconvenient time,” he added.

Again, he did not elaborate on the allegations or indicate if other officers or members of the judiciary were in question, saying he cannotand should not interfere in the operational decisions of the team.

“We should leave those decisions to the police under the capable interim leadership of Acting Commissioner Smith and to the Legal Department,” he said.

Continue Reading

Police make arrest in shooting

| 09/01/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Police say they have arrested a 33 year old man on suspicion of attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm following the shooting of 40-year-old man on Thursday night., 8 January. The incient reportedly occured outside Super C’s restaurant in West Bay at around 10:40 and officers from the West Bay CID made what was described as a quick arest by police Friday, 9 January.

The victim of this second shooting of 2009 remains in hospital, where his condition, as a result of the bullet wounds to his chest and stomach area, is said to be critical but stable. Police learned of the incident following a 911 call made at around 10:40 pm on Thursday night by a woman who said a man had been shot. Police  and medics responded to the scene but prior to the arrival of the emergency services the victim was taken to hospital by private car.

"It is unfortunate that this has happened and has somewhat marred the good reputation West Bay was developing due to a reduction in serious incidents,” said Area Commander, Chief Inspector Angelique Howell. “But I can assure everyone that we are doing all we can to bring a quick resolution to this incident and I urge everyone to go about their daily lives as normal and not allow this unfortunate situation to hinder them.”

The shooting comes less than a week after 17 year old Jerome Christopher Alexander Russell was shot dead outside Shir Reynolds Nightclub in George Town on Saturday night, 3 January, and another unamed man was also wounded.

Chief Inspector Howell also called for anyone who was in the area of Watercourse Road or Boatswain Bay Road who may have seen or heard something important to contact West Bay CID on 949-3999 or Crime Stoppers. All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Catron enters political fray

| 09/01/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): The first independent candidate to announce their intention to run in the forthcoming general election in May of this year is local activist Sandra Catron. Having already cut her political spurs in the 2005 battle for the district of Bodden Town where she lives, Catron at 35 is not only no stranger to political combat, she is also an outspoken and sometimes controversial character.

“Between the last election and this I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “I know that because I’m not afraid to raise and talk about the controversial and tough issues — some people find it refreshing but others don’t. I’ve learned to get my message across (which) may mean a slightly different approach. I am, however, willing to stick my head above the parapet and there are certain things I will not compromise on.”

Asked by many supporters to get back in the political ring, Catron says she didn’t think she was going to run this time, but as a passionate community activist she says she feels driven to fight for office and wants to be the kind of representative that dedicates all her time to the role of Member of the Legislative Assembly.

“It took me a while to decide to run because I think an MLA should be full time, I don’t think you should do other things,” she said. “The electorate is your employer so to speak and you need to dedicate your time to them not your own affairs. Before I decided to run I wanted to make sure I had their support and then to make sure that I could put aside my own business interests and be free to serve the people if they chose to return me.”

Crime, society and education are some of the areas that Catron will be forming her campaign around and where she is likely to cause controversy. However, she also noted that  no one vying for office in the 2009 election can fail to address the economy.

“We can’t ignore the fact that government has shown a degree of fiscal irresponsibility with over-spending and an over-commitment on various projects. There is no single answer to our economic woes but the goal is to not make it worse with poor policies and to be much more aware of the influence of the outside world on Cayman,” she said. “It is a real concern that this government didn’t see these economic problems coming. We need to elect people who give a damn; we need people who are paying attention to the rest of the world. “

Catron has already demonstrated the lengths she is prepared to go to address what she considers important issues. This year she has spent a considerable amount of time working on a website that faces the very real and prevalent issue of child abuse in the Cayman Islands with the creation of a sex offenders list on line and she is likely to continue addressing controversial themes.

“Teen pregnancy is another area that causes me enormous concern,” she said. “And lets face it we need to get over the idea that telling teenagers not to have sex works – it doesn’t work. Educating them as early as possible even before middle school, giving them the tools they needed to make wise decisions, free condoms, free birth control these are the things we need to do to address this. Whatever it takes we have to address the teen pregnancy rate,”

She said despite the controversy, she intended to talk straight about teenage sexual behavior, family planning and other important social issues. She said that this year it was a damning revelation of where we are when the Young Parenting Programme was unable to cope with the amount of new teenage mothers needing its support.

She also said that there were issues within the constitution that hindered the elected government’s relationship with the police and that she would like to see the RCIPS answer to and be accountable to the Legislative Assembly but she also wanted the community to face up to the issues of gang crime that are now permeating the society.

“While people may think it appears isolated or contained, that is a false sense of security and Cayman needs to bring in experts from other jurisdictions around the world who have dealt with serious gang and drug related crime.”  Catron also noted that we could not as a community blame the PPM administration for rising crime as it was neglect on everyone’s part.

Despite not having any financial backer or a major party behind her, Catron said she was looking forward to getting out and about and starting the campaign at grass roots. “I don’t have a big budget and women are known for stretching the dollar, but my campaign will be about knocking on doors and talking directly with the community about what I would aim to achieve if elected and more importantly to listen to what they need and want,” she said. “In the last campaign I literally ran out of time so this time around I’m starting earlier to get my message out. People know me now and they see I have integrity and I hope Cayman is ready for a politician that is honest.”

Catron says she intends to be a full time hard working representative that will be available to her constituents and will be listening hard to the people. “I hope people will see that I am qualified to be an MLA,” she said. With no regrets about her last attempt she says the experience was a significant learning curve. “But this time I am all about winning for all the right reasons,” she added.

For more details on Catron’s campaign go to www.sandracatron.com

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Government pushes ahead with port

| 09/01/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Despite mixed feelings in the community regarding the proposed plans to re-develop the George Town port to separate cruise and cargo facilities and install cruise berths, the government says it is pressing ahead with the project and announced yesterday that the first phase of public consultation regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment will get underway next week and that the recommendations on financial modeling options for a public-private partnership are also due any day.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism at the weekly government press briefing on Thursday morning, 8 January, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said plans were moving ahead with the port project and that environmental assessment, which will be conducted by CH2M HILL, will help determine how each of the proposed designs would perform under actual testing, as well as assess the potential detrimental impact on Cayman’s marine and land environment during and post development.

He said estimates for the cruise project range from US$109 to US$117 million depending on the design option, and a further US$71 million for the port facility. However, this would not be financed entirely by government as a result of a planned public partnership. The financial modeling options for this are being devised by KPMG, the LoGB said. In July the government entered into an MOU with investors Atlantic Star, who may prove to be the full or limited partner in the port’s development.

“KPMG has been engaged to conduct financial and ownership modelling on behalf of the Port Authority and the government.  This review is nearing completion and provides an independent basis for the Port Authority and government to assess options for achieving this critical infrastructure,” Tibbetts said.

Public consultation will begin next week to further help determine the terms of reference, he said.

“The EIA will be done in two phases, with the first phase being the scoping exercise on the terms of reference and the second phase involving the actual testing of the conceptual designs.  Three names of three qualified firms weresubmitted to the DoE, which selected CH2M HILL as the most qualified firm to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment. CH2M HILL is well known to the DoE and the community, having worked on a prior environmental project locally,” Tibbetts added.

The DoE will direct the EIA and ensure that the terms of reference are broad. DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said at the briefing that she had no single major fears about the EIA but had defined some 14 areas of concern that she wanted to ensure were addressed. However, Tibbetts said the assessment would not be a “decisions maker” but “a decision informer”. He said it was meant to provide a sound basis upon which decisions can be made.

Charles Clifford admitted that if the EIA came back saying Seven Mile Beach would be destroyed, or if the development would expose George Town to serious danger in hurricanes, they would review the plans, but it appears government’s commitment to this development will not be dissuaded over limited environmental damage or pollution.

“The EIA will tell us what can be done to minimise the impacts and explore options to offset any negative outcomes which are anticipated,” he said.

The public are being given one week to comment and engage in discussions regarding Phase 1 of the Environmental Impact, beginning with meetings on 13 January for the general public and on 14 January for stakeholders from within both the public and private. Information will also be provided on a website to allow for public input via email to the DoE over the period of one week.

Critics of the cruise berthing facility have pointed out that this will not necessarily add to the financial benefit of the tourism industry, as Cayman is expected to continue managing a maximum passenger capacity in any event.

The LOGB said the plans would establish facilities which had the capacity to serve a maximum of 8 vessels – 4 berthed and 4 utilising tenders with a passenger capacity of up to 23,500 passengers per day. 

“However, just as the current facility has the capacity to cater to up to 20,000 passengers as we have done in the past, the actual capacity will be governed by a management plan such as is used today,” he added.

Currently  the total number of people in port on any given day is restricted to six ships or 15,000 passengers, whichever is greater. 

“This capacity is not static but is dependant upon both the capacity of the facility and the visitor experience as monitored by exit surveys and feedback from other stakeholders,” Tibbetts said, adding that the development was therefore to allow for some future growth, but the actual policy would still be determined by the carrying capacity of the facility and the experience of visitors and residents.





 

 

Continue Reading

House fire on Cayman Brac

| 09/01/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A man was seriously injured in a house fire on Cayman Brac Thursday afternoon, which reportedly started with an explosion. The Brac Fire Station was alerted to the fire in the ocean front house on the corner of Kirkconnell Street and Foster Road around 3:45 pm. The injured man, who was airlifted out of the Brac around 12:30 am Friday, was apparently one of three men working in the house at time of the explosion.

In the first house fire on the Brac for some 8 years, the interior of the back of the house appeared destroyed by flames and the front left with severe smoke damage. Police officers were also present at the scene.

Fire officers returned to the house Thursday evening after a call from a member of the public alerted them to the fact that a piece of plywood covering a back window was smoking.

Continue Reading

Bush attacks PPM on crime

| 09/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With a record number of murders in 2008 and the killing of a seventeen year old last weekend, the Leader of the Opposition has criticised the PPM Government for what he said was its failure to deal with rising crime. He said that the PPM had pointed the finger at the UDPwhen it was in office and now he said the government should be held accountable. Hitting back, the Leader of Government Business said the PPM had invested more in police and crime fighting than any government in history.

Following the killing of 17 year old Jerome Christopher Alexander Russell who was shot dead outside Shir Reynolds Night Club in George Town last Saturday night (3 January) and the highest recorded murder rate in one year with seven killings in 2008, McKeeva Bush said the current administration has been ineffective in dealing with rising crime since it came to office in 2005.
 
"We already have severe worsening economic conditions and people are suffering, we don’t need an ineffective approach to dealing with issues such as crime and security at this time. When the PPM came into power in 2005 they put the blame squarely at the feet of the UDP for crime rates. Now after their 3 and a half years in power we are seeing the highest murder rates in our history and increasing burglaries and other crimes in general, the PPM should now be held accountable for the serious situation that we are in regarding crimes in this country,” Bush said.
 
"There are dedicated and hard working persons within the RCIPS. But they must be provided with the necessary stability in their working environment in which to do their jobs. It is widely known that morale is very low within the RCIPS," he added.

However, Kurt Tibbetts responded to Bush’s criticisms at the government press briefing on Thursday morning 8 January and said that the government was very conscious of the goings on in the islands and had repeatedly been in discussion with police and the governor but was not responsible for the problems affecting the RCIPS because of the special investigation.

“It is known that this government has allocated and poured more resources towards the Royal Cayman Islands Police than any other government — more than double any other government,” he said. The unfortunate situation we face is that we can fund them but we really have no constitutional responsibility and all we can do is have discussions and dialogue and I can promise you that we do that.”

He said that recent events regarding the special police investigation have not helped but he was not prepared to take any responsibility for that. Moreover, he said he was not prepared to enter into a tit for tat blame game with the Leader of the Opposition Bush over the situation but he said the PPM was doing everything it could in terms of proper resources to help the police do their job.

With Cayman’s fourth Commissioner in one year now in place Bush said he offered his support to James Smith the latest man to take up the acting commissioner post. "It has to be said that the new acting Commissioner has not stepped into an ideal working environment but I encourage everyone to get behind and give him the necessary support to try to keep the RCIPS effective on an ongoing basis. The government has a responsibility for peace, order and good governance and if they had the audacity to blame the UDP in 2005 they should accept blame now," Bush said.

Minister Alden McLaughlin responded by saying  he hoped that given Bush’s new found concern about crime and the operations of the police that in the constitutional talks which were about to start the opposition will change its position and support the concept of a national security council which would allow the elected government some influence over police operations and policies.

Charles Clifford also reminded Bush that the PPM had committed to helping the police deal with border protection as it was the most affective way of fighting drugs and the crime related to the illegal trade which is why this government has spent so much on marine support. “As far as Mr Bush’s comments are concerned we can expect that type of political posturing on the eve of an election,” Clifford added.

 Bush in his statement lamented the growing reports of burglaries and other crimes in the country and tied them to the overall worsening state of affairs generally.  "These increasing incidences of burglaries and other crimes which have impacted people’s homes and businesses are linked to the social and economic crisis that this government has put this country in with their poor policies. Unfortunately, this Government does not seem to understand the relationship between a healthy economy and a more stable society," he added.

 

Continue Reading