By: Flynn Bush
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have been holding community meetings across the entire country, including the sister islands. On Thursday, November 9th, they held their final district meeting of this series. Of course, this is the first time that a series of meetings has been led by Mr. Kurt Walton, since his appointment as the Commissioner of Police.
Inside the Constitution Hall, Mr. Walton got the meeting started by greeting the audience members and asking if it was okay for him and his panel members to sit at the floor level immediately in front of the audience, rather than on the stage behind a table that had been set up. Once they had repositioned, he then greeted the audience members again and proceeded to introduce the other members of the RCIPS who were present. After also specifically welcoming the Members of Parliament who were there. Mr. Walton went on to speak about the purpose of these meetings.
The new Commissioner stressed the importance of involving the public in the process of policing through giving them a chance to give feedback, suggestions, and even criticism to the service, and then using that to help make better decisions for the entire service. Mr. Walton then again reiterated that he expected to be held accountable by the public, and he encouraged them to openly and freely share their concerns and thoughts. He plainly stated, “I am the Commissioner of Police who also happens to be a Caymanian. Therefore, I don’t expect that you would go easy on me. I expect that you would hold me accountable and let me know when and where you think I can do better.”
At this point, the commissioner shared that the RCIPS was in the final few months of their current three-year policing plan. He said that the new one was currently in the works and that he expected the 2024-2026 plan to be completed and ready for submittal to the Governor’s Office by December. He spoke about his vision for the service with the primary objective being the safety of all residents of these three islands.
Once the floor was opened to the audience, the Commissioner was hit with questions, comments, and even some snide remarks about different areas and responsibilities of the RCIPS. These addressed topics from traffic woes, the rise in serious and gun crime, the attitudes of the police officers, the responsiveness of the police, and the need for more police presence in our communities. Certain community areas were of particular concern and carried the discussion for a while, due to the perception of the community members that the police were not doing enough to help in that area.
Mr. Walton handled all questions and comments with grace and poise, thereby displaying some of the leadership qualities that led to his appointment as the Commissioner of Police. He assured the public repeatedly that he was there for the benefit of the country as a whole and that he would give his endeavor best to improve the safety of all citizens and residents.
This is an important point in our country’s history. The members of the public know it and, certainly, Mr. Kurt Walton knows it as well. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is in capable hands going forward. Now, it behooves us to support him and the entire service as best we can, and to be willing to work with them. There is much work to be done, for sure. However, with our new Commissioner of Police in charge, we can look forward to seeing significant progress.