By Christopher Tobutt
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service can take pride in being one of the most professional and caring police services in the world. These days, it isn’t all just about arrests and enforcement. Prevention is equally important, and in the last few years the Community Policing Department has taken a lead role in helping communities stay safe, through regular visits to community groups as well as by making inroads into talking to young children at the schools. One message is coming over loud and clear: The Police are not the enemy. The enemy is all the things that destroy homes, property, and ruin lives. The Police are here as your friend.
Police are people who care. That is often why they feel the calling to be a police officer in the first place. In the first of a series of fortnightly features designed to inform the public about the growing role of the police as custodians of community safety and help, Acting Superintendent Brad Ebanks met with Ralph Lewis of the Caymanian Times.
Carwash for kids’ meals
The RCIPS Community Policing Unit is celebrating the completion of their fundraising car wash campaign, which began in August and concluded in November. The initiative saw Community Police Officers and Community Safety Officers conducting car washes at each of the government primary schools in Grand Cayman. The funds raised during each car wash were then donated directly to each school to help with kids meals.
Explaining how the programme got started, Officer Ebanks said, “One of our community policing officers could personally relate to it, because when he was a young kid he faced those situations where on occasion food was scarce, and so he was instrumental in starting it. It’s actually surprising how many kids come to school hungry, and it has a domino effect because if a child is hungry it means they can’t concentrate properly. If they don’t do well at school and they don’t get an education, then they become our problem, because and more than likely they turn to crime.”
Breaking down walls
Often, it’s about breaking down the walls that separate communities from the police. “Front line policing is extremely busy so they very seldom gets the chance to embrace that opportunity, but the CPD (Community Policing Department) really bridges that gap and the schools too have developed a personal relationship with the community officers.”
More involvement in schools
“Something for us to look forward to in the future is we would like to get a school liaison officer for each Government school, so you have that level of respect and relationship is grown for a long time from where the child is small,” Mr. Ebanks said.
Christmas and New Year dangers
Christmas is a very busy time with shoppers often shopping late and businesses open late too. So the police have stepped up their visibility in those places, to help reassure the shoppers and the businesses alike that they are looking out for them, Officer Ebanks said.
In addition, of course, people are out celebrating at Christmas time. “Our traffic department we have ramped up our enforcement and presence there as well. We see speeding and drunk driving as our two most serious offences to tackle. “This year we have 3,945 speeding offences that is compared to 3,118 last year.” There have been ten fatalities on the road this year which, of course, is ten too many. Each serious accident ruins lives and families, and the hope is to get a message out to try and change the driving culture of Cayman.
One of the ways the police are getting more involved is with grassroots community programmes, such as Neighborhood Watch groups which police officers help to start. “The officer maintains a role in the neighborhood watch program where they have that officer as a contact if something happens. We don’t manage it, but we remain a part of it and are involved in the meetings,” Officer Ebanks said.