Archive for December 4th, 2014

Cops crackdown on Christmas crime

Cops crackdown on Christmas crime

| 04/12/2014 | 23 Comments

(CNS): The police will begin their Christmas and New Year safety campaign next week and the focus will be on traffic education and enforcement, as well as crime reduction and advice. This year, the seasonal safety initiatives begin on Wednesday 10 December and will run until Sunday 4 January. Outlining the plans for the holiday campaign, Acting Superintendent Angelique Howell said that all aspects of safety and security will be addressed. “People are well used to us launching our festive road safety initiatives. This year,as in previous years, we will continue with our two-fold approach to road safety and crime reduction initiatives. We will also be looking at personal safety, home and business security and safety at sea.”

Howell explained that it is a much more rounded campaign this year, with efforts to cut down Christmas crime.

“Through our programme of education and enforcement we hope to reduce the opportunities for criminality and make people much more aware of the role they can play in making the Cayman Islands’ festive season a safe and crime free one for everyone,” she added.

Chief Inspector Claudia Brady, the operational area commander at George Town Police Station, said, “Throughout the five week period, areas of safety and security outlined by Ag. Supt. Howell will be actively targeted every day and night. However; each week of the campaign will have a dedicated theme where we will raise awareness of the simple steps people take towards personal safety.

“The first week of the campaign will see road safety at the forefront and we will be out in force and encouraging safe driving and don’t drink and drive messages. High visibility patrols and road checks will be commonplace. These checks, not only help us to detect traffic offences, but they also give us another opportunity to search for illegal drugs, guns, other weapons and wanted persons,” the George Town officer stated.

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Prison guard is sex offender

Prison guard is sex offender

| 04/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A prison officer is the latest public servant to be placed on required leave as an investigation gets underway that he has a previously undeclared criminal conviction. The news comes in the wake of the shocking revelations that a killer had been working for the RCIPS until his conviction for murder last week and after two senior immigration officials were suspended in the face of investigations regarding their conduct and potential abuse of office. Government officials did not give details of the suspended prison officer’s alleged crime or where it took place but said government had received an anonymous tip-off. But CNS has learned the guard is Ricardo Fischer, a Jamaican national who was a registered sex offender in the United States and deported from there in 2009

The prison has refused to confirm or deny whether Fischer is the guard that has been suspended but CNS has been able to confirm his identity. Neil Lavis, the prison boss said that "Until I have finished the investigation I would not wish to comment further."

However given that Fischer's offence is recorded on-line at the Homefacts website it should not prove too difficult for the prison officials to conclude the investigation, shortly.

Announcing the guard's suspension Thursday morning the prison stated:

“An anonymous source recently alerted the prison management that an officer in their employment may have a criminal conviction stemming from an incident that occurred over a decade ago,” the spokesperson for the prison stated.  “A decision has been taken to suspend the employee pending a full investigation of the matter.”

The fact that a probe is now underway gives rise to concerns that the background checks may not have been conducted at the time the officer was recruited and the prison has not said when he was employed.

This latest news come at a time when the police commissioner is under serious pressure to resign having employed a man who had been under investigation regarding a police execution-style killing in Jamaica and who was charged with murder just two months after joining the RCIPS and being placed in the Armed Support Unit. 

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Complaints boss resigns

Complaints boss resigns

| 04/12/2014 | 71 Comments

(CNS): Nicola Williams, the complaints commissioner, has handed in her resignation and will be taking up a new post next year in the UK. In a statement released from her office on Thursday, Williams said she had accepted the appointment as the UK Service Complaints Commissioner (the Ombudsman for the UK Armed Forces), based domestically and worldwide. She will leave her job in Cayman in early January 2015. Williams had recently had her contracted renewed but only for twelve months and not for the full five year tenure normally offered and not until the eleventh hour before her first contract had expired.

Speaking to CNS in the wake of the announcement, Williams said, “Everyone knows I was reappointed for only one year instead of what would be the usual five years and as a consequence I thought it best to start to looking. I had previously been approached about jobs in the UK on visits in my capacity as a judge and given the situation here I thought I would pursue those other opportunities. On any view this position is a big step up.”

The role of the SCC was established by the Armed Forces Act 2006, as part of a service complaints system which came into effect from 1 January 2008. Williams was selected following open competition and a rigorous five stage selection process, which was chaired by an independent assessor from the Commissioner for Public Appointments in the UK.
In order to secure the powerful post, Williams also had to appear before the House of Commons Defence Committee for a pre-appointment hearing.

Pre-appointment hearings enable select committees to take evidence from preferred candidates for major public appointments before they are appointed. The Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Anna Soubry described Williams is an excellent candidate.

Williams confirmed that she will speak more before departing about the circumstances in Cayman at present regarding the office she held and how complaints are being treated in the civil service, as well as how government has addressed some of the issues she has brought to their attention via her reports. 

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Failing Hannah

Failing Hannah

| 04/12/2014 | 30 Comments

Local media covered, to some extent, the premiere and success of “Hannah’s Confession”, the play by local award-winning playwright Patricia Marie Bent which debuted at the Harquail Theatre in September and was brought back by popular demand in November. Nearly every news outlet spoke of the excellence of the cast, the well-constructed dialogue and plot, and the realistic portrayal of what goes on in the not so visible corners of “Product Cayman”.

The few outlets that covered the work more extensively touched on the darker themes of the play — domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, bullying — but did so from a safer distance, favoring to highlight what was described as the “positive message” within it all.

“Hannah’s Confession” was brilliant, not only due to its ability to spotlight these “darker themes” — the willfully ignored or outright downplayed reality of Beloved Isle Cayman — but also by being able to highlight how we, as a society, have failed our children at every turn.  From the family members/“nosy next door neighbours”, to the church, schools, police service, and social services “Hannah’s Confession” lays out in simple ways all the missed opportunities for protection and intervention, distributes the responsibility equally among the different sectors of our community and turns the mirror on its audience for, at the very least, introspection.

What the news outlets failed to cover was that the most jarring, disturbing and outright infuriating aspects of the experience for some audience members were not those that took place on stage and not for lack of content. During a particularly difficult scene, where Hannah’s mother and father (portrayed by the incredible Rita Estevanovich and Michael McLaughlin) end up in a confrontation that quickly turns violent and highlights both actors’ commitment to the role as they realistically portray a no-holds-barred physical fight, the overwhelming audience response was not outrage or shock; it was laughter.

Comedy club laughter.

To clarify: there were numerous parts of the play’s dialogue that were intentionally funny, and the delivery by the actors made them outright hilarious. Yet there was no discernment among a good number of audience members between the comedy and the drama. This was not the only scene that evoked this inappropriate response, among them was also the scene where the mother’s new boyfriend is making overtly sexual passes at the young Hannah, who is clearly uncomfortable.

The inappropriate reaction to seeing sexually abusive behavior towards a child as well as acts of physical violence being perpetrated were not expressed solely by the young people who were watching the play. Adults too, both Caymanians and expats, in various capacities, including educators and other professionals, were among those finding humor in the situation.

Those who left the theatre feeling disconcerted and disgusted have been pondering how to make sense of this experience and more broadly what it means as it pertains to the state of our community.

To attribute this reaction, which members of the cast confirmed were the norm and not the exception, to our immature theatre culture and inability to process anything other than comedies is a far too kind and rose-coloured explanation of what appears to be a much more troubling reality.

On the one hand, perhaps the reality portrayed on stage is in fact so commonplace for those who experience it daily that, in their struggle to keep their head above water, they have lost their ability to empathize with another with similar struggles. It is an utterly indifferent response expressed through statements like: “I get my licks, so why I must feel sorry for you?”, “Das how it go”, “That’s life”, or the myriad of other ways which reaffirm that this type of violence is normal.

On the other hand, perhaps as a community we have become so accustomed to consuming violence in its various forms — in our communities, on TV, at the movies, in our news, via our radio, online and in our games — that we have become truly desensitized to it.

In a world where the brutal beating of a toddler by her Ugandan nanny is captured on film and disseminated so as to attain “viral” status, a man pushing a woman with such force so as to make her lose her footing and fall hard is a meaningless act by comparison. In our mass consumption we have grown increasingly tolerant as violence is now measured comparatively against the great archive of violent acts stored in our psyche.

There may be those who think this is a gross overreaction, but consider this: what message was sent to the young members of the cast, whose ages ranged from 8-16, when emotionally charged, threatening, violent and serious situations were met with such response?

Worse yet, who can guarantee that this cavalier reaction is confined to the theatre?  What of the child who presents with signs of abuse to one of these adults? A mandate to report is not a mandate to empathise, so with what reaction will s/he be greeted?

Those among us who work on trying to raise awareness of issues such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence have long held to the hope that making our population aware is half the battle won. Our belief has been that in helping to publicly assert that these things are happening and helping our people correctly name our problems we will take the most necessary step towards collectively finding a solution for it.

Yet, the cast of “Hannah’s Confession” laid out our problems on a silver platter, with all the trimmings, and provided us with a service next to none. Their last two performances, in fact, took place within the context of a Cayman Islands where six year old Bethany Butler was brutally stabbed multiple times by her mother just weeks prior.  If ever there was a time for the messages to resonate, this should have been it.

And still there was laughter.

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Police charge suspect bag snatcher

Police charge suspect bag snatcher

| 04/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 48 year old Bodden Town resident has been charged with theft following his arrested in George Town yesterday after he was caught by a police constable. The man is alleged to have stolen a waist bag containing cash and personal effects from a stall at the Craft Market, adjacent to the junction of Boilers Road and South Church Street at around 11am, Wednesday. An RCIPS spokesperson said the suspect had then made his escape on foot but was pursued by the stall operator who gave immediate chase. The man was then apprehended not far from the Hard Rock Café restaurant by a uniform constable.

Police on arrival at the scene said the accused man was firmly held in what was described as a bear hug before he was arrested in relation to the theft. He was later charged with theft and was scheduled to appear in summary court Thursday.

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Haines needs $100k ahead of final run

Haines needs $100k ahead of final run

| 04/12/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Derek Haines' epic challenge to complete six marathons in a year has captured the attention and respect of many in Cayman not just for the distance ran, but for the cause it's being run for. Through fund raising and increasing awareness of his personal challenge Haines aims to raise one million dollars for the building of a new Cayman Hospice Center. The final marathon of the million dollar fundraiser will take place on Sunday from 7 December starting at 6am from Breezes by the Bay in George Town.  However, the marathon man is still short of almost $100,000 and is sincerely hoping that there will be a final surge before he puts on his trainers for the last 26.2 miles this weekend.

Haines continues his prolific journey with the support of the community, local businesses, his friends and family. Contributions have varied greatly from donation to donation – with the dollar a race donation from a local Rastafarian to the hundreds of thousands from local business people and companies.

“It has been a community wide contribution,” Haines said.

In an interview with CNS, Wednesday, he said his family is behind him and are “very supportive”, with his daughter having taken part in one of his marathons, in Pampalona, (pictured above) as well as planning to join him for this one on Sunday.

Cayman Hospice Care provides end-of-life care to Caymanians, who are dying, for free. They are paying $6,000 a month to rent out properties currently. The aim is to get them their own property “To help them stand on their own two feet,” as Haines said.

It is hoped that with sufficient donations for the purchase of their own property that money can then be funnelled back into their own operations and maintenance costs. The new building will enable HospiceCare to provide “in-patient care” to its clients, and will also save the charity some $72,000 in annual rent

“I'm not an architect, I'm not a builder… I'm just the runner, and I try to get the money,” Haines said before going on to explain that the building is hoped to be a four bedroom building with en suite facilities, a nurse's administrative area and a family room for visits. He has funded his own travel expenses and training costs himself.

Haines is nearing his financial target as well as the finish line after a globe-trotting campaign spanning six different countries, having overcome injury and doubt – and having worn out several pairs of shoes. “If you say you're going to do something, you do it.” he said. A lofty idea that “started off over a few beers” early in the year with some friends is turning into a reality.

The funds raised currently stand at $905,000 and the Cayman community can get behind him and donate at the fund-raising website This last marathon doesn’t necessarily mean that the run for donations will be over though, with the website and fund remaining open to any late contributions to the Hospice fund.

Contributors so far include Dart (and subsidiaries), the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, Massive Group, Massive Media, Chris Johnson Associates Ltd., John Doak Architecture, Digicel, LIME, KMedia Graphx, ICOA, Precision Solar, Sol Distributors and the Jacques Scott Group.  Businesses like Home Gas and Andro Group also will be contributing to the construction of the new Hospice facility.

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Calls come for CoPs head

Calls come for CoPs head

| 04/12/2014 | 164 Comments

(CNS): Revelations that the police commissioner had recruited a man facing a murder charge in Jamaica to the RCIPS, who has now been convicted, has raisedserious public concerns and calls for the top cop’s resignation. Government has remained silent, however, and the governor’s office told CNS that Helen Kilpatrick was in London for the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) and “will consider whether to comment on this issue when she returns to office". Meanwhile, the public outcry on the CNS comments, social media, the radio waves and the street is unlikely to be something the governor and the rest of government can ignore. MLAs Ezzard Miller and Bernie Bush have called for David Baines’ resignation and Al Suckoo, the only member of the PPM government to comment, described the situation as an outrage.

Miller said that as well as Baines’ departure he wanted to see a review of all recruits to the RCIPS over the last four years.

“I can state categorically that I do not have confidence in the chief of police, given the most recent revelation about the now convicted murderer having been recruited into the police force, and I am equally concerned that he may not be the only one. As a matter of urgency I call on the governor to establish a committee to review all successful applicants over the last four years who remain in the RCIPS,” he told CNS.

Meanwhile, Bernie Bush, a West Bay member on the opposition benches, said that from the very beginning he had concernsabout Baines, which were reinforced when he chose to buy the former governor a 'cow cod' as his parting gift  a symbol, Bush reminded people, of the master’s power over the slaves. Describing Baines as arrogant, Bush also called for him to go.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “The people do not have faith in him and for him to say he did nothing wrong regarding the recruitment of a now convicted murderer to our police force demonstrates the height of blindness over what the people think. When criminals complain about police management I am happy but when law abiding citizens are demanding that the commissioner leave then we all need to be concerned. It almost seems as though he wants the country to be in chaos,” the MLA stated, adding that he would be signing a People’s Referendum calling for the commissioner’s departure.

Bush said he had also heard that one of the MLAs had mooted the idea of a no confidence vote in the Legislative Assembly, which he said would have his full support.

The commissioner is employed by the governor and the Cayman government still has no control over staff or operational matters and can do little more than call for the commissioner’s removal if they have lost faith in him. Although CNS asked all of the members of the Legislative Assembly if they still had faith in the police boss, including government, opposition and independent members, the C4C members and the speaker, as representatives of their constituents, none of the Cabinet members have responded.

The only government member to voice concerns was back-bencher Al Suckoo. He said that he has raised the issue about policing and the police leadership with the government and although he has no personal gripe with the commissioner, he has concerns about the crime strategy.

“This latest incident involving an officer employed by the RCIPS being convicted of murder in Jamaica is an outrage and it appears as if the police leadership was aware of the investigation and chose to keep him employed,” Suckoo said, shocked by the revelation but worried it is not the first time it has happened. “I have to question how thorough and comprehensive our vetting process really is.”

He pointed out that instead of concentrating on retaining and recruiting local officers, well trained and experienced Caymanian officers are leaving the service “frustrated and fed up”. Suckoo said he would continue to raise concerns in caucus.

“I do hope that others will agree that it’s time to demand better. There really is too much at stake here. We have many excellent officers serving in the RCIPS and poor leadership will quickly demoralise them. If there ever was a time that we needed to be impressed with our police leadership, I would say the time is now,” the Bodden Town PPM member stated.

Health Minister Osbourne Bodden did not respond to CNS, but speaking generally about the police recently on Orrett Connor’s radio show, "For the Record", he implied that if the people do npt have faith in him, the commissioner should go.

Baines has still not answered enquiries from CNS directly since the revelations were made public earlier this week about the recruitment of Tyrone Findlay but he confirmed that he stood by comments he made in the Caymanian Compass.

A spokesperson for the RCIPS also denied suggestions that when Findlay was brought back to Cayman ahead of his trial, he had been working as an assistant to the commissioner.

The police said that Findlay had work most recently behind a desk in the Marine Unit.

The RCIPS has not still not revealed the full details of the conditions of employment and why it was that he could not be dismissed but Baines told the local paper that Findlay was hired for the RCIPS Armed Support Unit in May 2011, after he applied for a transfer, apparently believing he had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the line-of-duty shooting.

The RCIPS was aware that there were question marks over the killing but employed him anyway, two months before he was charged, in the local Uniform Support Group, the armed branch of the RCIPS, despite knowing that his use of firearms had given serious cause for concern, even in Jamaica, where police discharging their weapons and killing individuals allegedly in the line of duty is far from uncommon.

Findlay was sentenced to 25 years in prison last week for shooting and killing a man when he was a detective in the Manchester district of the Jamaica law enforcement agency.

In March this year, as the case dragged on without going to trial, RCIPS Commissioner David Baines applied for him to return to work in Cayman, having assisted in varying his bail conditions. Baines said this was to get some value from his salary, which the police were legally obliged to continue paying.

Baines said that Findlay came with exemplary references from three senior officers with the Jamaica Constabulary Force and one from a sitting judge. He also had a “clean bill of health” from Jamaica’s anti-corruption unit.

“We were looking for experienced officers that had been firearms trained and could do that duty. That’s why he was brought over,” Baines said.

Applicants to the RCIPS are required to inform the police if they are the subject of any active investigations involving inappropriate or excessive use of force. But Baines said that Findlay and his referees references were unaware that the inquiry into the shooting was continuing when he applied to work in Cayman.

Baines said the first that the RCIPS hierarchy knew of the incident was in July 2011, when the Jamaican Director of Public Prosecutions Office announced it was proceeding with criminal charges.

This was only two months after he was recruited and during what must have been a probationary period. But given that Findlay had not disclosed the investigation, it is not clear why he could not have been terminated immediately. Baines said he was, however, suspended on full pay.

“From his version of events, he believed the matter had been investigated and he had been cleared. That was his understanding until 19 months afterwards, when the DPP announced they were bringing these charges,” Baines claimed. “I can’t make any comment about what happened at Alligator Pond; I can say from an RCIPS perspective, in view of his colleagues and his supervisors, he was an exemplary professional – motivated and committed. There were no concerns about his professionalism or his judgment.”

He said the law in Cayman mandates that any officer under investigation has the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty and cannot be summarily fired, but must be suspended with pay. Baines even suggested that if the expected appeal against the conviction is successful, Findlay could return to work in Cayman.

“If the shooting takes place in January 2010 and it is July 2011 before the DPP makes a decision to charge, that is a significant length of time for what should have been a straight forward investigation. The officers didn’t dispute the shooting; it was not a cold case. Had it been dealt with in a 12-month period, we wouldn’t be where we are,” the commissioner said by way of justification.

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Pawn shops face new rules

Pawn shops face new rules

| 04/12/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Considered an easy place for burglars, robbers and thieves to cash in their stolen loot, the government is clamping down on pawn shops, metal recyclers and secondhand dealers. From now on, stores will be required to keep full records of how they acquired pawned or traded goods, the identity of the sellers and inform the police when they suspect goods brought to them are stolen. The businesses will also be subject to inspection. Presenting the new Second Hand Dealers bill in the Legislative Assembly last week, Commerce Minister Wayne Panton explained that the law would regulate the industry, deter unlawful property transactions and facilitate the recovery of stolen property.

Panton said that, given the changes to the local business environment in recent years, there needed to be a wider framework of standards and a law to protect the interests of consumers and help police track and recover loot cashed.

The minister welcomed metal recycling and said it was to be encouraged but the government also recognized that the creation of these types of business brought some risks. The minister of commerce said criminals could take advantage of the opportunity to convert pilfered property into quick cash.

With the LA involved in many debates about addressing crime and while stiffer penalties is part of the fight, another part is mitigating and regulating the ability of criminals to convert stolen goods into money. Panton said that, recognizing the risks, government had worked with stakeholders to determine the best practice for second hand dealers.

Panton said the police have had some cooperation from existing dealers but there was a clear need for minimum standards and a regulatory framework. The law, he explained, would establish certain operations and implementing procedures and the obligation to keep photos, inventories, IDS and records on who, what, where, when and how dealers obtained pawned items, especially for jewellery, precious stones and metals, as well as electronics items.

“We recognized the bill isn’t going to eradicate problem of burglaries but will provide a much needed obligatory regime and regulation that will fight that activity and provide an investigative tool to make it more difficult for criminals to use legitimate business establishments to convert stolen property into cash,” Panton told his colleagues.

He said it was hoped that the new regime would lead to better enforcement and a deterrent. Linked to the Trade and Business Licensing bill, which was debated later on the same day, the minister said the law would provide for specific licensing for the second hand industry and to require owners to have a police clearance certificate and to be defined as fit and proper person before they got a license. This, he said, was an attempt to ensure only “people of good reputation” are running these businesses.

“Hopefully, it will curb the problem of burglars and thieves converting stolen goods to cash and give police the tools to deal with it,” the minister added.

Panton noted that the law clearly stated that it does not apply to garage sales and the like.

Although no one commented on the bill and it passed with the support of the government benches, the opposition CDP voted against it. During the debate on the Trade and Business Licensing bill which followed, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said there was already too much bureaucracy, which is why he had not supported it.

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