Opinion: It’s time to acknowledge Cayman’s ongoing high crime | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

Readers are asked to note that OP-eds do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Loop Cayman.

by ‘Concerned Citizen’

With so many cop car chases, at least one gunshot being fired by police, various arrests, including people suspected of harbouring fugitives, some people in Cayman may have thought that an action movie was being filmed in Cayman last week. Unfortunately for residents, real bullets were fired in the past couple of days and real danger entered their lives (whether they appreciate this or not). The sad part though, is that, after a few arrests have been made and as soon as things calm down, I think that some people’s memories will fade and they will revert to living in a “bubble” in Cayman, thinking that what took place last week were isolated incidents and that everyone is now safe, the police having scoured the entire island for criminals and purged Cayman of violent crime.

Bursting the bubble

Unfortunately, this illusion will come to an end and some people’s bubble will burst when they realise that the recent episodes only represent a tiny portion of the 30,000 criminal incidents entered into the records system of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) each year. As to the remaining twenty-nine thousand nine hundred and something incidents left to take place this year, these can happen at any time, anywhere and to any person. Thinking anything else is like turning a blind eye to reality and perhaps, underestimating the gravity and proximity of crime.

Everyone is exposed to crime

One of the misunderstandings about the proximity of crime to us is that violent crime only affects low-income areas and those that live in gated communities or affluent areas are shielded from criminal incidents. In my opinion, this is only partially true.

For example, I grew up in a low- income area seeing guns and drugs from time to time. I also witnessed young men acting and sounding angry all the time, vexed at something, whatever, for any reason. That anger quickly turned to threats to kill or to do other violent acts. Initially, these were just words… until someone actually got stabbed or shot.

In that environment, I also saw primary school-aged children serving alcohol to adults during domino games while their parents were playing. A casual observer might think that, at a first glance, this is a “cute” thing for a child to do, however, what these children are really doing is taking part in adult activities directly and learning early on in life to normalize negative behaviours and practices.

Young people who become accustomed to this environment and who are not put on the right track or who don’t benefit from positive opportunities to help them rise out of their circumstances or who are not swayed positively otherwise, tend to establish a similar “lifestyle,” acting out the behaviours that they learned and repeating what they saw when they were young.

This is not to say, however, that every low-income area is the same or that all persons who are products of low-income areas have the same outcomes. In fact, results can vary.

When it comes to high income areas, surveys by consultants and others hired by governments over the years depict that alcohol, bullying and mental issues plague high income areas, even though not exclusively so.

In both high income and low-income areas, the takeaway is that when problems are left unaddressed, issues are exacerbated, ultimately creating an environment which fosters a range of behaviours, sometimes delinquent and criminal ones.

Exposing the underbelly

Wherever the crime is in Cayman though, one thing we can say is that it is easy to expose it.

The problem, however, is finding someone willing to do so. This predicament arises because people reported that they provided information to the police in the past (e.g., as a “whistleblower”), however, the perpetrator of the criminal incident somehow discovered who the whistleblower was, opening him or her up to threats of violence and insecurity in some cases. For this reason, some people do not provide information to the police that could assist or close an investigation. Instead, people stay silent and sometimes even help criminals to hide from law enforcement, notwithstanding that harbouring a fugitive itself is a crime.