(CNS): The RCIPS is under-resourced, the new police commissioner has said after three weeks on the job, and he plans to make his case to government for more cash for local policing. Meeting the press Wednesday for the first time since he arrived in Cayman earlier this month, Derek Byrne told reporters that he was going to put the community at the centre of policing, but he said there was a shortage of funds and he needed to make the case to government for a budget increase.
Byrne said he wanted to see an RCIPS that was “highly visible, highly accessible, progressive and responsive”.
He said there was a lot of work to be done to create a neighbourhood community-based police model, but there was some semblance of community policing to build on, though it would require more resources.
“I don’t think it is any big secret that there is a shortage of resources. We have to work hard, and I have to make the case to government that we need additional resources and that is going to take a little bit of time.”
Byrne said that there were ever-increasing demands on the police service. New crime trends, such as sophisticated cyber-crime, and open borders with huge amounts of visitors to the island, which all contributed to public safety costs.
The commissioner said it he would have to come-up with a matrix of the type of policing model that would fit best in Cayman with the costs required to fund it to present to the Cayman government. He pointed out that some 80% of the current budget goes on paying salaries, which doesn’t leave a great deal for all the other costs required to fight sophisticated crime in a modern community.
He said his goal was to transform the organisation and he would need some time to work out what was required to do that and then present that to Cabinet. Byrne said it was up to him to make the case and he could not go them with “fragmented problems” but he needed to bring a business plan to government.
“I feel I am going to be supported …when I can make a satisfactory business case in terms of what I believe it is that needs to be delivered to make us a modern progressive policing service,” Byrne added.
He also said there were some morale issues among the staff and it would be “foolhardy to suggest that there weren’t any difficulties”. However, he said there was also a great deal of good going on and “not everything is broken with the RCIPS”. He said it was his job to build on the good and deal with the not so good.
The commissioner also spoke about the need to build trust and be more transparent. He said that as a police service, and not a force, the RCIPS has to be an “ethical, progressive and accountable” service, and he emphasised the need for more visible community policing across all three islands.
Byrne said that the RCIPS was making use of its community and neighbourhood officers in the current murder enquiry following the shooting of Dwayne Seymour on Monday. He explained that community policing in “times of need”, such as a serious incident like that, could really pay off with the information officers could gather when they were well-connected and immersed in the community.
The commissioner outlined some immediate priorities, which included dealing with the two most recent murders, as well as the growing public concerns about the increase in the reckless use of illegal bikes on the roads by young men.