Customs officers to get guns

| 15/10/2009

(CNS): An amendment to the Customs Law (2007 Revision) has paved the way for customs officers to carry firearms but only in limited circumstances. According to the change those officers involved in joint operations with the RCIPS will, with the permission of the Commissioner of Police be allowed to carry a weapon when they go out on the operation.  The amendment was brought to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday by Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson,who said that customs officers were now more frequently involved in dangerous interdiction duties.

Jefferson told the House that the Immigration Law was recently amended to allow those officers to carry weapons when they work with the police, and this amendment would now provide the same protection for customs officers when carrying out duties on a police operation.

He said that under everyday circumstances the officers would not be carrying weapons and this was restricted to joint RCIPS assignments only, and only whenpermitted by the commissioner.

The original proposal was even more restricted as it proposed to limit officers to carry weapons only on RCIPS marine unit operations. However, during  a debate on the floor of the LA both independent MLA for North Side, Ezzard Miller, and Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts noted that the way things were going in Cayman with regards crime it  would not be long before  the officers may well be asked to join land operations as well as those at sea. The MLAs suggested it would be better to have provision in the law now to ensure they would be able to carry weapons in those circumstances as well.

Tibbetts said the move was better late than never as he had championed the cause and had argued with the ‘official’ arm of government in the past over it. However, the opposition leader said it should not be at the permission of the commissioner of police but by permission of the collector of customs. Tibbetts said he believed that was problematic as the senior officers are generally from the UK and very reluctant to let anyone carry weapons. He noted that even with the passage of this amendment it would be possible for the commissioner to prevent customs officers from being able to protect themselves.

“Surely the collector of customs should be in a position to make the judgement call for his officers to be armed.” Tibbetts said.  He noted that the nature of the custom officers’ job meant that they are guarding the borders more than the police. As a result he suggested that the customs officers should also be allowed to carry weapons when they are involved in their own operations, regardless of whether they are conducted along with the RCIPS or not. Tibbetts added that he was not suggesting the officers should “be like buster crab”, but he felt they should be allowed to protect themselves as at present sometimes they are going out without so much as a pair of handcuffs.

The amendment was passed with the inclusion of land based police operations, but government did not alter the amendment to provide for the collector of customs to have the authority over arming his officers or for customs officers on duties outside of police operations to be armed.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Excellent!! Now maybe we will see some action. Probably don’t have toshoot more than one or two to get their attention…. If they are up to no good, so be it…Hope that there is not too much collateral damage, but for the good of the whole society, sacrifices we may have to bear…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a sensible move to arm marine officers and the custom officer that assist them in their patrol operations. I also think they should equip these officer with bullet proof vest for added protection. Drug runners ( drug boats) not only carry a full load of drugs but are often armed. Some people have mis-read the article clearly and this applies to the marine unit of customs. However I hope it is mandatory that these firearms are stored in a safe place when the officer are not on the water patrolling.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There really is an over reaction here. Customs officers attached to the marine unit have, up to now been armed under the conditions that they are suitable for training, they pass the course, and that the operations on which they are engaged meet the criteria for the issue of firearms. They had Special Constable status which allowed the Commissioner to arm them. The new law just makes that unnecessary. There is a similar section already in the immigration law, but the decision on who is trained remains with the Commissioner. Training will also fall to the police, who are the only ones qualified to teach the subject under the stringent rules and guidelines adopted by the police. The likelihood is that no one will see an increase in the carriage of firearms by anyone, so please stop panicking.

  4. Joe Average says:

    I’m not a believer in guns as the ultimate solution and I believe the "right to bear arms" in the States has been twisted and very much abused.  But I would NOT want to be an officer responding to "shots fired" in Cayman without one and I would NOT want to be pulling up to a drug canoe in the middle of the night without one.

    Just remember:  We’re asking for stiffer penalities. With that goes a stiffer response from those who could and should be caught.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is there any chance, we could give them ‘brains’ and then give them guns?

    This really is a terrifying prospect. The Caymanian version of ‘Starsky and Hutch’ driving up West Bay Road.

    The world, has now gone officially ‘MAD’…. This really is an extremely dangerous decision….

  6. Anonymous says:

    Are Marine Officers allowed to carry firearms as well?

  7. Curious George says:

    Perfectly stated and I agree:

    "With adequate training and qualification with the use of firearms, any police officer including Customs should be allowed to carry a firearm.  The UK style of policing is antiquated.  Today in Cayman there should be protection for our people and our officers against the increase in criminal activity.   If  officers are not able to qualify to use a firearm or pass mandatory psychological exams, then they should NOT carry a firearm OR be a police officer at all."

    • Anonymous says:

      When men or women sign up to join law enforcement they do so knowing that they throughout their career will not have to carry a gun. It is a very different situation when you change the rules and carrying a weapon becomes the norm , these people did not sign up for that and whilst they are happy to deal with criminals on a day to day basis who may be armed expecting them to carry a weapon is a different ballgame . It is a very big step and they may not feel in themselves comfortable carrying a gun or perhaps for religious reasons have an issue with this.

      When you carry a gun  you must be prepared to fire it and a lot of people wouldnt be able to either do that or perhaps live with the consequences if they did.

      That is what I was meaning with psychological assessment – yes they have no issue operating as an officer of the law , but an armed officer of the law is something very different.  

  8. Bracker Dan says:

     Drug Dealers have guns so enforcement agents of Police and Customs should have guns too. Plain and Simple.

    and in regards to intimidating tourists at the airport… please, use your head, where do you think these people are coming from… a gun-less United States? In the states even the Immigration Officers at the international airports have guns… so please…

    Unna crabs so quick to dis every little thing… 

    And there are two types of Customs officers, administrative and enforcement.. again, use ya head… dang.

    Bracker Dan

  9. Anonymous says:

    To – Anon 8:59am. Did you read this article or just the first the headlines. The only Customs officers that will be armed are those in the Marine Unit – ie those out at sea intercepting the canoes!!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Be ready and use them if you have to officers.  They will know or have this information and they will be coming packing something.

    Thank you Officers for working so hard to keep Cayman Drug free.

    Thank you….


    • Pale Rider says:

      "Be ready and use them if you have to officers"

      But, do so in the knowledge that if you do, and someone dies, you WILL be charged with Manslaughter and will be tried in the Grand Court..and given that it seems like the Senior Judiciary want to hand this country to the criminals, Self Defense as a defense to Manslaughter will more than likely NOT be a good enough defense to keep you from being convicted…Think Twice before you pull that trigger…

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Any judge who shares your views above should immediately retire or be recalled.

        • Pale Rider says:

          Thanks for your thoughts, Dennie.

            However, let me clarify…These are not MY views…this is the law.  ANYONE who causes the unlawful death of another without malice aforethought commits the offense of Manslaughter…that is what is written in the law…I have no faith, that, given the recent trend by the justice community to want to charge police officers for silly things like wounding in connection with a lawful arrest, that they would hesitate for one second to charge any officer who had to use deadly force in the execution of their duties….one only has to see the recent decision handed down by the CJ in the case of Jazzy B to wonder where their sense of justice lies…given all of this…I, for one would think very hard, if I were a Law Enforcement Officer, of even accepting the responsibility for carrying a firearm, much less wether I think that I would EVER want to undergo the scrutiny which will surely arise, should, God forbid, I ever have to take someones life…  Again,…just my opinion…

          • Anonymous says:

            The key lies in understanding what "unlawful death" means. In part it has to do with the reasonableness of the use of deadly force to effect an arrest or prevent an escape and can only be assessed on a case by case basis. This is a clear defence to a charge of manslaughter and if the defence is proved then the death was not unlawful.  

            Article 2 of the ECHR reads as follows:

            "Right to life

            1.Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

            2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more thanabsolutely necessary:

            a. in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
            b. in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
            c. in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection".
          • Anonymous says:

             Whether or not a police officer is charged in connection with a fatal shooting will depend entirely on the circumstances. A simple example would be, shooting someone in the back, who was unarmed and running away. Forget about any other circumstances and please don’t add any what ifs. Accepting the circumstances here, it is likely the officer would be charged following investigation. Circumstances are rarely that simple, but it would come down the the witness statements, evidence and officers statement about what happened. Recent charges in connection with an arrest are not as cut and dry as you would believe and you will have to wait for the conclusion of the trial to make a true determination about the judicial system, that they are intent on just trying to convict officers. As long as the officers use their training, sound judgement, act in good faith and are legal in what they are doing then any court will have a hard job convicting them, if they were even charged. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be an investigation, but the likelihood of charges at the end of it will be nil if it is righteous.

  11. Anon says:

    Fantastic…how long before one of those clowns accidently shoots themselves?…or worse someone else by mistake?

    • Raus Auslander says:

      Yep, using your cell phone in the baggage reclaim will be a totally different experience.

      Lets arm the security / wheel clampers outside the airport too, that should add to the circus!


    • beloved Cayman says:

      Does anyone recall the police officer that lost his life on guard duty because his fellow officer had a loaded gun,

  12. what a mess! says:

    I suggest we allow Law Abiding citizens to arm themselves also. A man or woman who has a clean police record should be able to protect him/herself in his own home. As it stands now, criminals know they can enter someones home and there is little to no chance that the owner/occupant can properly defend themself…in fact the Cayman govt. and Lawmakers have made it illegal to do so.

    Time for this to change! Arm Law Abiding Citizens now!!

    • Pale Rider says:

      You have the right to arm yourselves….that is, the right to arm yourselves with a cell phone and dial 911 in the event that someone breaks into your house and threatens you or your family….and the right to wait for the RCIP to eventually show up…and the right to be mad as hell when they won’t to do anything to help you, because they would rather just go and "warn" the person about not committing the offense again….but you DO NOT have the right to arm yourself in defense of an intruder… sorry,..that is the system your stuck with….

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Pale Rider,

        You are correct in saying that I have the right to arm myself with a cell phone and dial 911…. and call 911 I will.  You are also correct that I have a right to wait for the RCIP to eventually show up…, BUT you should consider the following:

        “If ever there was any doubt as to the authority for using self defence, the words of Lord Parker CJ in Chisam (1963) 47 Cr App Rep 130 are helpful. His Lordship said: “…. where a forcible and violent felony is attempted upon the person of another, the party assaulted, or his servant, or any other person present, is entitled to repel force by force, and, if necessary, to kill the aggressor ….””  Read more here:

        • what a mess! says:


          What you are saying is all good and well (in theory). However, we all know that to become a licensed firearm holder here is nigh impossible in most cases. You will recall how difficult it was for you to even get the proper form to apply.

          I’m not normally Pro-gun but considering the upturn in violent crimes here now (with little hope for this trend improving) it seems we have likely passed the point of no return, as it relates to violent crime. My point is that we have reached the stage where Law Abiding Citizens should be allowed to have the necessary means to protect themselves…and that Govt. needs to consider ways to expedite this…not hinder it!

          Maybe an open debate on the pros and cons could start the dialogue and provide some needed public education. Currently we have a situation where the criminals are becoming ever more brazen…and the law abiding citizens ever more terrified and helpless!


          • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

            The only rights we will ever have are those we are willing to defend…  Persons wrongly believe that guns equal crime and that is simply not true, so in their ignorance they also resist arming our law enforcement officers.

            Currently the Attorney General is protected by armed guards.  Is his life more precious than mine – or yours?

            If we should not allow people a means of self-defense when good “in theory”, then when should we?

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Re: “the Cayman govt. and Lawmakers have made it illegal to do so.”

      You are factually incorrect!  Law abiding residents can legally own a firearm. Now, consider what Section 18(1)(a) of the Firearm Law (2008 Revision) says, and I quote: “No person shall discharge any firearm on or within forty yards of any public road or in any public place except in the lawful protection of his person or property or of the person or property of some other person.”

      Read the law here:

  13. Anonymous says:

    So when do you think Cayman will bring in the Death Penalty ? Its the next obvious step for all of you stupid enough to think that handing out guns are going to solve your problems .

    Please think about what you are writing when you advocate that officers need to be armed – the UK is not being stupid by their reluctance to generally arm officers – they understand the level of responsibility that goes with this type of action and that doesnt come cheap – Does Cayman have enough in the pot to pay for all of this – after all they would need to recruit experienced specialist firearm officers – 




    • Un tasse de tea says:

      Death penalty and no fair trial if you’r epoor and foriegn, oooooo, show trials!!


    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Firstly, please don’t call me stupid; be smart enough to simply debate the issues.

      When the death penalty was an option in the Cayman Islands, fewer homicides occurred (by any means).  Nevertheless, I can assure you that we have Caymanian firearms experts who can train our law enforcement officers.

  14. Anonymous says:

     Yes there is a problem with violence in the UK  and they are well aware of it and are working towards addressing it but they are by no means the worst according to UN

    The UK Police Force is respected world wide and are not armed.

    If you had looked at intentional  homicide rates  compiled by the United Nations in its most recent release in 2009  you would see that per 10,000, Bermuda is 1.56,  UK was 2.04 , Switzerland 2.26,  USA 5.68, Barbados 7.49,  Russia 16.5 , Jamaica 58  . etc etc  . 



  15. Anonymous says:

    So we will need to buy the weapons , bring in qualified instructors , have regular assessments as well as psychological assessments by Psychiatrists on a regular basis .

    Set up secure training range , armament officers to regularly check weapons and ensure they are maintained. 

    It is not just a matter of giving people a gun just because they are a customs officer  – very few would probably pass the stringent assessment process and if they got through that would they get through training -??

    The UK do not go with arming police unless they are in a specially trained unit for a very good reason . Yes there are armed police at the major airports in UK  that however is to provide protection in case of terrorist threat   , armed police do NOT walk the streets in UK . 

    Cayman needs to address the problem it has with gun violence on land first of all   with intelligence operations and confiscation of weapons,its not that big an island however it appears that the criminal element are running wild at present. The penalty for crossing the line needs to be so severe that  it makes people think twice about carrying any weapon or carrying out any crime- confiscation of property , stricter custodial sentences where they are in a boot camp situation instead of a holiday camp .

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      In other words, you think Caymanians are too stupid to carry arms.  Why am I not surprised?

  16. Anonymous says:

     To 8:59.  By the use of your words, you obviously are from the UK.  I would say many (not all) Cayman Officers need to be armed.  I know, you will say "look at the US, look what happens over there".  


    Cayman needs to give up the UK mentality, they would be much better off.

    Read the statistics here:



    • Anonymous says:

      Violent crimes might be higher in the UK but you are 4 times more likely to be murdered in the US than you are in the UK.

      UK murder rate is circa 1.4 per 100,000 people

      US murder rate is circa 5.8 per 100,000 people

      This is what happens if you arm everyone, even the slightest altercation can escalate to a homicide as happens in the US.

      Just for discussion’s sake the murder rate in Cayman is circa 14 per 100,000 people which puts it in the top 20 most dangerous countries. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Obviously legal guns have no effect on murder rate…as the Cayman Islands does not allow them …thus the end of using guns to relate to the murder rate!!! You said it I didn’t.

        • Anonymous says:

          Eeer the point was that Cayman should not go down the US route of arming everyone as this leads to an increase in the murder rate – legal or not legal, more guns = more murders.  Get the guns off the streets and away from every tom, dick and harry and the murder rate will naturally fall. Please leave the ignorant NRA arguments at the door and re-engage the brain.

          We have an extremely high murder rate here becauase there are too many guns, legal or illegal, it doesn’t matter. Remove the guns (by bringing in draconian laws to combat gun ownership) and you will bring down the homicide rate. Arm everyone on the island and you will increase the homicide rate.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Trust NO-ONE, Police Officers, Immigration Officers and Custom Officers. They are all human and can make mistakes. 

    Though it is not right the 15 outlined criminal have a target circle, an eye for an eye or tit for tat is not the way to go!


  18. Anonymous says:

    Why do immigration officers in USA/CDA wear vests and handguns inside their secure areas at airports ?  Wouldn’t you think that the immigration area would already be the most secure part of the airport?  When was the last time a planeload of armed banditos landed at an international gateway and stormed the customs area?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oh my goodness say it is not so – they just cannot give guns to customs in the Brac – everyone be on the lookout because if you get in RAMBO’s way you are gonna be shot – please please say it is not so this young man is a time bomb waiting to go off and now you are going to arm him – ohhhhhh no.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Let’s make sure these armed customs agents are posted at the airport to intimidate arriving tourist and make the Cayman Customs & Immigration "experience" just that much more enjoyable!!

    Nothing better than a pistol packing customs agent saying, "Welcome To Cayman"

  21. Anonymous says:

    Anyone going into harm way, should have the ability and equipment to protect themselves. It about time the Customers officers are allowed to.

  22. Pierre De Coubertin says:

    Let the games begin

  23. Anonymous says:

    There is a very good reason why the UK are reluctant to arm officers ,  the ones that are are highly trained and are regularly assessed  . If however Cayman wants to go down that route which is more US style where every one is armed then watch what happens.

    The Royal Navy already operates in the Caribbean perhaps that needs to be stepped up . 

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s get something straight. Cayman needs to assess it’s own needs without thinking that what’s ok in Miami is ok for us. It’s rubbish to think that it is ok to arm Customs officers here just because we see it when we go through Miami airport.

      US Customs and Immigration officers in airports did not get guns until after 9/11 when the US sufferred the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history which involved the terrorists going through airports to complete their murderous acts. The arming of the airport based officers was an extreme reaction to an extreme circumstance in a country that is much more open to owning/carrying firearms.

      Cayman falls outside all these conditions completely.

      I must stress that, while I have no issue with Customs officers being armed for certain tasks like joint operations with the Police, we certainly don’t need all Customs officers to be armed. For example, what benefit would it be to have an armed Customs officer at the airport warehouse doing paperwork and stamping invoices? The costs of purchasing, maintaining the firearms and the initial and ongoing training of these officers is an expense that the CI Govt does not need and bring no benefit in such situations. Intercepting drug dealers and gun runners on the high seas, on the other hand, is indeed a situation that calls for arming officers.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is a very good reason????  Your comment makes no sense.

      With adequate training and qualification with the use of firearms, any police officer including Customs should be allowed to carry a firearm.  The UK style of policing is antiquated.  Today in Cayman there should be protection for our people and our officers against the increase in criminal activity.   If  officers are not able to qualify to use a firearm or pass mandatory psychological exams, then they should NOT carry a firearm OR be a police officer at all.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Sad to say, but the days of the unarmed British Bobby is over.

      Todays criminals are not like yesterdays criminals and if you dont match their fire power you are simply a sitting duck.