Community policing works, says Ennis

| 17/06/2016 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

Acting Commissioner of Police Anthony Ennis

(CNS): Acting Commissioner of Police Anthony Ennis has told legislatures that he is committed to developing community policing in the RCIPS as he believes it is an effective way of dealing with the perception of crime as well deterring criminals. The senior officer, who is standing in the top boots until the recruitment process to replace the recently departed David Baines is complete, said he cannot tie the hands of the new commissioner but said, “I know it works.” Ennis pointed out that it is also an expectation of people in the Cayman Islands that they will see the police in their communities.

Speaking in Finance Committee Thursday as legislators examined the home affairs ministry appropriations, Ennis said that there are currently around 15 neighbourhood officers who police specific communities and the schools, which is not enough as the goal is to have a community officer assigned to each of the new electoral districts.

Regardless of the challenges of the RCIPS being low on headcount, Ennis said it had to be at the centre of police policy because the problems in any community begin when police shift away from community based policing.

The acting commissioner said perception about crime was very real; even though crime statistics were falling, the public perception was very different and people don’t want to hear about the numbers because they feel crime is pervasive. One of the best ways to deal with those perceptions in the community, he said, was to have a strong visible presence of officers patrolling through communities, creating a feeling of security and a deterrent for criminals.

Describing it as his driving strategy in the organisation, he said it had been demonstrated in many different places that community policing works and he hoped the next police chief would support the contemporary thinking behind it and continue to apply that strategy, increasing the number of officers dedicated to it.

Ennis was also candid about the changes to traffic management. He said he did not want to call what happened “an experiment” because the disbanding of the unit was to address resources. “But it hasn’t worked, so we are now reconstituting the traffic department to meet community needs,” he said, explaining that it was being rolled out again to try to keep the roads safe.

The RCIPS is short of 50 police officers and Ennis said recruitment remained a problem. However, the recent recruitment drives to attract locals into the service had been very successful and these would continue, he said, noting that two of the latest recruits were about to be placed on the fast-track programme.

He said there needed to be more Caymanians in the service, as locals make up about only 45% of the numbers. Agreeing with legislators that the majority of the service should be Caymanian, he pointed out that Cayman is a diverse community and therefore it needed a diverse police service.

As legislators prepared to vote for the more than $50 million appropriation for the 18 month budget, Ennis pointed out that although the RCIPS was criticised for its size and the resources it consumes, other countries have multiple law enforcement agencies dealing with different aspects of security while the RCIPS did it all.

“We are the only thing you have,” he said, noting that police are asked to do all sorts of things, some of which could be handled by other government agencies. Ennis said he believed government had to look at transferring some services to other departments to free up some resources and control the size of the RCIPS.

He reassured the committee that the police had focused on controlling gang crime. Many of the known gangsters were now behind bars, Ennis said, but he raised concerns about the very high recidivism rate. He said it genuinely pained his heart that he was arresting the same people today who had been committing crime when he was a young officer on the beat, and now he was also arresting their kids.

“Unless we start addressing the root causes and social problems, we will need to build a much bigger prison,” he stated, acknowledging however that the politicians were all well aware of the problem.

The premier, who only has budget responsibility for the police, said that the new commissioner would be conducting a major review of policing policies and strategies when he arrives.

Ennis also told legislators that he would ensure that when the new CoP was in place he would meet with and listen to the complaints raised by legislators.

West Bay MLA Bernie Bush said he had evidence about the abuse of office and “blatant racism” of some officers in the police and he wanted a chance to speak with the new commissioner about it.

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Government Finance, Police, Politics

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    the statistic used to state number of Caymanians doesn’t specify the nationality of the officers and the majority, an educated guess would be 95% of the officers with status are from Jamaica plus those on contracts are mainly from Jamaica.

    Yes I know no legal difference in Caymanian and status holder but makes big difference in assuming ‘Caymanising’ the force means locals. Jamaicans are not locals or natives.

    Know your history.

    SLAVES came here through Jamaica, most were in Bodden Town and in 60s when Jamaica went independent many had to run here, many were ‘white’ Jamaicans who then used their money and influence on our political system to gain tremendous power.

    Descendants of British & many Scottish families who came here and built this country can rightfully claim more than the Jamaicans who come here today, so another reason for true history to be known and fairness to prevail

  2. Anonymous says:

    Give him the COP job already! Stop the recruitment process.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well what I heard from Finance Committee on Radio Cayman was that they need 18 police officers for Community Policing. One for each electoral area.(LC at CBW will be a tough beat!). Some the ones already allocated are being used in schools.
    I’m sorry but my kids school doesn’t have a police officer assigned to it so where are these schools and why do they need police officers assigned to them.

    Are they that bad?
    Why are the highly paid principals not dealing with these matters?
    Reminds me of Arnie in Kindergarten Cop.

    • Anonymous says:

      If they’re going to be fair then they should post police at private schools too, BUT we know that ain’t happening because as all headlines point to ‘poor, uneducated and unemployed’ being arrested right!! [sarcasm!!] we need to stop generalising that only uneducated and unemployed committing the crimes…… look at results for May & June alone, from what I see, majority were committed by employed skilled workers.
      Greed is the problem and recruitment in the RCIPS is no exception, community policing will never be implemented properly here because historically Jamaicans have always befriended Caymanians

  4. Anonymous says:

    Community policing is all very well, if the community police officers get out of their damn cars and talk to people. And I don’t just mean their friends, I mean everybody, they need to stop and actually talk, it’s the only way that they can build up a picture of the beat in which they patrol.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree Ennis. Websters had a great community officer and now he is gone and from what we can see he has not been replaced. He was the best.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well seems like he’s advocating policies different than his homeland Jamaica, good for him!

    but still praying for the UK to send a CoP not scared off by you know who and which group

  7. Anonymous says:

    What community policing? When I see it I’ll believe it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Will it help weed out the corruption from inside the department?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I say keep him at the top. It seems to the only time the police budget gets increased is when a local is in charge.
    It would also save ministers the trouble of finding another excuse for a witch hunt, given the last one didn’t go so well. ‘What do you mean they weren’t actually out fishing. Shhhh no one will ever notice’

    • Anonymous says:

      Isn’t he actually Jamaican? If so, the windbags from NS and EE won’t want a ‘furiegner’, even if he isn’t from the UK.
      No, in their bigoted nationalist view they would rather settle for average than employ the best.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Please start a “midnight basketball league ” (games start around 6 pm and go until 10 pm, but after that kids are tired- can be any sport. Volunteer coaches- teams are district vs district and also vs. police, emt’s, fire, etc.
    Great for the community- keeps large number of youth off street and new respect is formed between police, fire and youth.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are many sports leagues on island. All these kids have to do is join one.

      • Anonymous says:

        A midnight sports league is not just a regular sports league. They are more geared to target at-risk youth and to involve interaction with police,fire, teachers etc. This way those youth are interacting and hopefully gaining respect for those community leaders- also they are staying off the streets,getting involved in something positive and academics can be incorporated. Other youth may participate as they would be role models, but more geared toward at-risk.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Presumably the police will actually get outside their offices and cars and into the communities?

  12. Robert Bodden says:

    Thanks Mr. Ennis for this proactive Policing strategy. It is a proving fact that community presence works. Another issue that need to be considered is that with the new district constituencies being implemented the need for Police sub stations will increase. The community policeing need to enclude residents email to keep they up to date with issue affecting their communities.The proposal by Mr Kurt Tibbetts of selling the main Police property and building a new multi complex will not address this issue. We need more sub stations instead of a single station in each district…. I hope this is revisited in the very near future

  13. Anonymous says:

    Please, no more statements of this is the safest jurisdiction in the Caribbean, safer than Washington, New York, London, Paris, etc, etc. That’s the reasoning that got us where we are today. Just do your job, crime is crime no matter who commit it. Drive from Morritts E/E and 1.25 hours (75 minutes) later you end up in the sea by North West Point launching ramp in W/B, that’s how small we are. Agree community policing is the way, but Enforcing the LAW IS THE ONLY WAY to reduce crime.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course we are the safest place in the Caribbean and many huge cities; the police cannot do it alone we as citizens of this great country must help solve crimes by reporting what we see or hear even if its our own family; but we don’t hence crime continues to increase.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Ennis seems to be aptly qualified for the COP position. He has the experience in most areas of policing and is very familiar with the Cayman Islands culture and social issues. Unless he does not want the COP position, i believe he should be confirmed.

    • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

      TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU 11.12. Who can persuade him to step forward when he has good reason to not want the job after what he has endured?

      • Anonymous says:

        Wish we could persuade him to step forward to COP. But……. he from the wrong ethnic background so that nah happen in the Cayman Islands

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