Fear real for GT residents

| 24/03/2009

(CNS):  George Town residents have made it clear to the police that they have a real fear of crime and are demanding that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service do something about community policing and neighbourhood schemes to help them deal with that fear and tackle crime in the district. Coming after another violent weekend, the George Town RCIPS meeting saw residents raise their concerns about crime in terms of its causes as well as how it was being policed.

Recidivism, the allocation of police resources, the shortage of officers, the levels of risk police officers face in the course of their work, drug related problems, the fundamental causes of crime and the continued problem of the security of information given to officers were just some of the issues discussed.  Residents were clearly very keen to help police but expressed their concerns about the perception of increasing crime.

Facing residents in the country’s capital for the first time, Acting Commissioner James Smith heard what are becoming familiar complaints after his island-wide cop road show regarding the security of information given to the RCIPS and a lack of visible policing. He said that community policing was a priority for him and explained it wasn’t something that should just be a department in the RCIPS but be part of the service across the board. He said it would take time as officers needed to be trained.

“Community policing is still in its embryonic stages here in Cayman but we are committed to improving that and we are working on plans. We need to ensure officers are trained to react to the needs and understand the needs of the communities they work in as well as building the trust of the neighbourhoods.”

Residents spoke about the genuine feeling of fear, and despite claims that the Cayman Islands is still a relatively low-crime jurisdiction, the fear of crime is very real especially for women. One local resident, Marilyn Connolly, articulated the fears many women now have in the community just walking to a meeting like the very one they were attending, across dark car parks and public areas. She said the climate of fear, perceived or otherwise, should not be dismissed as it was negatively impacting everyone’s day to day life.

Residents also criticised the lack of information from the police, which they felt fuelled the fear. They said residents needed to know if violent crimes were random, whether the same people were involved, were they related and what were the underlying causes. With a number of residents complaining that in the most recent incidents this weekend no officers had been in the neighbourhoods reassuring them, they said the fear of crime was increased.

The ACP said the police could not always give as much information as they would like because of the integrity of investigations but he acknowledged the need to communicate. “We do think that we need to get more localised information to people and improve communication to reassure residents,” said Smith. “These things can’t happen overnight, however. We need to put systems in place.”

The issue of secure communicationswas also raised and Smith said he was working on improvements to the RCIPS intelligence gathering and the security of that information. He also vowed that the information given to the SIO of the Special Police Investigation Team, Martin Bridger, who will be leaving in April would remain secure.  Around 80 people from the community have reportedly given information to Bridger since he invited people to come forward last year. This will now form the basis of Operation Cealt, which Smith has said will be led by another senior officer whose identity has still not been revealed.

The shortage of officers was another major talking point as the service is currently down around 33% in terms of manpower and Smith said officers were being recruited. The problems of attracting staff to the force was questioned by Mike Adam, the only new candidate running for office in the district that attended the meeting.  Many of the officers present talked about the challenges of the job, and Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis explained that the difficulty of recruiting was compounded by competition from the high paying offshore services sectors. He spelt out many of the challenges officers face, from the long hours and the pressures to the risks of the job.

Adam queried whether policing was any more high risk than other professions, such as pilots, but officers present assured him that the job was indeed very risky and they all risked their lives in the course of their work on a day to day basis. Although no officers have lost their lives in the line of duty here, Area Commander, Chief Inspector Harlan Powery put the dangers into perspective: “When you are faced at 3:00 am in the morning with an angry crack cocaine addict with a knife, who is HIV positive, let me tell you it’s a high risk job,” he said. Kurt Walton, a long serving RCIPS officer and now head of the Drugs Task Force, said he faced many dangerous situations and was lucky to be alive following one incident when he was stabbed in the arm as he defended himself against a knife attack.

The meeting also saw a number of people looking at the philosophical issues surrounding crime, such as what happened to those who went to prison and the poor rehabilitation rates. Powery noted that he would like to see the day when everyone sent to prison because of drug related crimes or with drug problems had access to proper counselling and rehabilitation services. He said the standard response was we should lock people up and throw away the key but that was unrealistic and that the community should not just give up on these people.

Lucille Seymour, the third elected member for George Town, who left the Legislative Assembly’s closing debate especially to attend the meeting, raised the issue of why Cayman’s boy children were so violent and that the community needed to address how they were being socialised. Many residents agreed that the causes of crime were as important, if not more important, than the cure and there was a pressing need to address that issue. Smith agreed and said the police alone cannot solve societal problems and that it required inter-agency cooperation.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    From a concern citizen

    I am just overlooking some of the incidents and as a Caymanian you almost know everybody who have been victims of these fatal crimes and if you dont know them, you know a family member a friend or they were your co-worker at some time. I am wondering why we have not heard anymore updates as to what happend to Sebrina Schirn and what is taking place with the case??? Is it going to be another unsolved murder? There was so much stink over Estell God Bless her we know she served the country well but let’s not be bias. I sit here counting how many murders have taken place and how many have been solved….it is very sad!

    All these different police vehicles and still unsolved murders????

    All the different police boats and stilll????

    Why can’t we get a decent forensics lab down here and some really kick butt detectives that will concentrate on the crime first and reputation of these individuals after that will actually solve these murders if it means they have to work day and night non stop. MURDER IS A CRIME NO MATTER WHO THE VICTIM IS!!!!! Does it really matter who the victim is?Tips help sure but come on you cannot depend solely on them. Think about it maybe this person has actually killed before because there are so many unsolved murders that just seem to be pushed aside for other news and minor crimes compared to murder.  And everyone knows once the case starts going quiet that is just the sign that it’s not as important and the cops are slacking off and it goes from there.

    What are they trying to do distract us with political stuff and what not. The Government has some good people yes but let’s face the facts corruption is everywhere.  It would be nice to watch our children grow and watch their grand children one day grow and play freely on our beautiful Island beaches, so if you don’t have our Island and our Island people best interest at heart step down and stop waisting yours and our time and also robbing our Island smack in our face! Talk about adding insult to injury.

    We have not forgotten about these murders that are not solved and we can’t get any answers on. What if that was your daughter or son murdered?

    No one has the right to pass that judgement on anyone. Only God gives life so only God should have that authority to take life.

    For some of the cases that have been solved but you end up seeing new names to these charges meaning lesser time. Murder, Attempt Murder, Man slaughter and Rape they mean the same thing to me, try putting yourself in the victims shoes. Do you feel it? The fear and torment that can never be given back! maybe that would help you solve some of these cases. So why does it look as if some of these cases that are dealt with are a slap on the risk to the perpetrator? No wonder they can call themselves "prison proof" come back out and just know how to be smarter at what they do. I mean they learn the police techniques and know they wont solve something a little technical and of course they pick up extra skills doing time so upon their release they are better criminals.

    I am not saying this is the case for all. Nope. This is the case for the repetitive criminals that have rightfully claimed there fame, name and chosen profession.

    The first 3 named crimes above murder, attempt murder, man slaughter and rape all mean that someone has died and as for rape it is the murder of an individuals spirit. That persons life will never be the same again. Maybe if they got life sentences for that crime they will think twice.

    Let’s remain focus here on the seriousness of the things taking place and  what just took place in East End. We know that anywhere will never be crime free that is reality but sometimes you do need to fight back and not just say it once as the majority of the Island did in Estella’s case but with everyone who fall victim to these crimes. She for one would of fought for the brutal death of Sabrina!

    All together it’s almost like "What are we going to hear next?"

    Come on Cayman we are not divided we are all one! It’s not all the fault of the police because some of you have choosen to remain hush hush about what you know or see because…????? Only you would know why? It seems the only business some people are ready to talk is when they are ready to bash other one down instead of using that skill to help make our Island safer for our kids comming up. Don’t waite till these crimes happen to your loved one to cry help!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes but that is not their main focus!!! They rather have a road block in the morning holding up traffic worst that it already is… SAD, SAD…

  3. Friend of Cayman says:

    "When contabluary duties must be done, must be done, a policeman’s lot is not a happy one"  – from Gilbert & Sullovan’s play "The Pirates of Penzance"

  4. Anonymous says:

    you can teach all you want to unwed teenagers to not get knocked up.  It has never worked in the world from the beginning of creation and it never will work.  Both wed and unwed teenagers will always get knocked up.  Nothing can stop it unless of course the whole human race dies.

  5. Pale Rider says:

    "Community policing is in it’s embryonic stages in Cayman"????  This just goes to show how little this man knows about Cayman and the RCIPS…Community policing was introduced by David Thursfield in 1997….The fact is Community Policing does not work!!! Especially in communities that do not want to be policed….The Cayman Islands does not need more community police officers.  It needs leaders who will hold the junior officers accountable and demand results.  The RCIP already had some of the finest officers anywhere…I know.  I worked with those same men and women for 10 years.  The exodus began in earnest after Hurricane Ivan, when persons were hired into the Police Service, who before that, couldn’t even pass the entrance exam.  20 years ago, when I first enterd the ranks of the RCIP, within months, I knew the names of every police officer in the "Force" as it was titled in those days….nowadays,  I would bet you that except for the officers of their own nationality, most police officers couldn’t name more a couple dozen other officers…..The fact that Derek Haines name has been removed from the short list of applicants for the position of CoP shows just how short sighted and non well meaning the Governor is.   C’mon Cayman…wake up…you think colonialism is dead..????  Think again…you are being controlled and manipulated from the inside out…you just don’t know it….You think the Gov’nor wants someone who will stand up to him and not allow him to run roughshod over the Police???  Not no, but H$LL NO!!!   Sorry, Derek.  You really are the right man for the job….!!!  As far as the levels of crime are concerned, Not only are the police to blame for not getting a handle on this problem, but where is Immigration???  Sorry Franz, you and your posse have to take some of the heat here too!!   27,000 work permits???  Are you kidding me???    How many actual background checks were done on all of those persons who are now living and working amongst us???   You think those two animals who MURDERED Estalla just woke up one morning and decided to abduct, rape and kill and then incinerate some random person….No sir…. I will guarantee you either one or the other had some prior history of violence against women… and we just let them come on in….It’s time for the people of Cayman to stand up and say enough is enough….It is not for citizens to fear it’s govermnment…It is for government to fear it’s people….and all that is needed for TYRANNY to exist is for good men to do nothing!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t like that Derek Haines is not un the running for top cop. Why is that? All you get is double talk from the Governor and the politicians about Derek not being on the short list. Is it because he was too successful in his drug arrests? If not , then why not?

    There are still far to many secrets on this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      "All you get is double talk from the Governor and the politicians about Derek not being on the short list".

      The politicians are not involved in this decision. Ask the Governor and his special panel. See ‘Panel to choose top cop’ here on CNS.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The place to start is not to give charity to unwed teenage mothers. The place to start is to teach them not to get knocked up in the first place.

    An ounce of Prevention = a pound of cure

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am tired of saying this over and over for about 15 years now, you need to help the single mothers of young children who are financially suffering in this high cost of living!!  That is how you will get your crime down!!  Foreigners who come in and commit crimes have some link of freindship or acquaintance with local thugs or gangstas who explains all about Cayman to them.  They are linked to locals!! 

    Most if not all of the locals who have turned into thugs and gangstas committing violent criminal acts are from single Mom financially suffering homes and some included with abusive violent substance abusing / alcoholic fathers.  Go do some research on that!  It would be a good thing to do!  Look at the statistics.  I know you haven’t been able to charge and imprison all of the locals who have committed these types of violent criminal acts, so it’s hard to see the statistics of what home they are from when you don’t even know who they are?  Or you might know who they are but don’t have evidence to prove it. 

    Still, if you truthfully want to bring crime down, you need to do a survey on all the financially suffering single Mom’s, and go about helping them.  I would prefer to see my taxpaying money go to building a single Mom a free home where she is the homeowner – no mortgage, no rent! , rather than go in some corrupt politican’s and politician’s freind’s or business partner pocket or wasted foolishly on things that are not urgent.  Women need their own homes to raise their children!  Not to be shacking up somewhere and feeling miserable, hopeless and frustrated everyday they wake up to face another struggling day.  I would prefer my taxpaying money go to helping them, than to live with violent crime caused from some of their offspring. Which would you prefer?  To judge and scorn them and say they are not responsible parents, or to not judge them and just help them and have a better Country???

    Cayman is at a crisis level and has been for a while, it’s just getting worse, but it already started a few years ago, it’s not just now starting?  Government needs to focus on crime now, or the Tourists will stop coming in large numbers, maybe a few here and there, but not enough to support this island.

    So, if you want to cure the cause for the ailment (the crime), you must go at the root cause (preventing the crime).  Trying to medicate it (trying to solve the crime or apprehending the perpetrators after the crimes are committed) won’t cure (prevent) it.  You must fix the root cause to solve the ailment.  Or you will spend wasted time and finances trying to medicate it.  Take that wasted money and spend on the root cause, help the single financially suffering Moms.  I guarantee you it would make a tremendous difference!  It won’t erase crime, but it will surely bring it down!  Prevention is better invested in than cures that don’t even work!

    Would you like to hire me for advice on how to help these Moms???  I won’t charge a dime, i’ll do it for free as a volunteer…But, only if you will listen and act on it, otherwise i’m not going to waste my valuable precious time.

    Some may read this and say this is foolishness, some may be frightened by now of so much violent crime happening so fast, and actually maybe start to listen to this point of view!  Hopefully it won’t fall on deaf ears now as it always has in the past.  Hopefully? 

  9. anonymous says:

    When you have a society where they are not encourage to study and do better we are going to find more criminals to make ends meet, steal, sell drugs, prostitute etc.

    the police also, how can the few good men help solve the problem if you still got CURRUPT police officers on the force that helps the criminals..HELLO????

    we need to clean up from top to bottom…any politicians around?…oops no they busy selling out the country for their benefit…another bunch of crooks.

    here’s a solution.. START placing HARD punishment for crimes, harderprison discipline (no turkey for christmas) and focus on EDUCATION, its that simple!!!!!!!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Smith is speaking as if he been told he has got the permanent top cop job. If this is the case he need to stop being like a stand up comedian and take the job serious.

    The job of a cop will be dangerous so long as you have ill-trained, un civil bullies doing it, cos good people will not take that.

    You don’t want a high risk job? Be a server then! We the public look to cops to do a high risk job, not moan about it being high risk. The ting is most of the cops just sit around anddo nothing all day, or try and catch motorists 5-10mph over the limit.. Where’s da risk in that?

    If Smit is making long term plans, and he have been told by Jack that he got da job, then did he make the only local applicant get taken off the list? The only one who know Cayman and da people, – Haines been dropped from the list because he is too strong for the Gov to deal with.

    The po will be short of officers cos they keep leaving cos the leaders are hopeless and the ones what left won’t come back for this ‘leader’…