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Byrne: Close proximity to Jamaica creates challenge in stopping gun influx

Cayman’s top cop laud’s efforts to rid the Cayman Islands of illegal firearms.

He says, however, there’s a long way to go.

In an exclusive interview with Cayman 27 Wednesday (9 May), Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne says stopping illegal shipments of guns from Jamaica must be a priority.

Cayman 27’s Kevin Morales has more. 

“Firearms crimes cause great difficulty in any community,” Mr. Byrne said. “I mean, they’re of the greatest crimes we have. The consequences are phenomenal for families and victims.”

Firearms crimes dropped 31-percent from 2016 to 2017, a time frame in which firearms seizures increased 61-percent.

“And that’s down to, I would say and I’m happy to say, a lot of hard work by dedicated police officers who sometimes put themselves in harm’s way to recover these firearms,” Mr. Byrne said.

But there have been three shootings, two murders and a host of other gun-related offences in 2018. To stem the tide of guns flowing into Cayman, Mr. Byrne says we must look east.

“The close proximity to Jamaica makes it a difficulty,” Mr. Byrne said. “And firearms are… there is significant work going on in Jamaica. Some firearms are finding their way here, we see it in drug shipments that they find a way to the islands.”

At least three times this year, Police have arrested Jamaican men in canoes with drugs and firearms.

“To prevent them (guns) from coming means working with our law enforcement partners across jurisdictions, but predominately would be that this is the illegal firearms coming from Jamaica, working very closely with them.”

Locally, he says the upcoming gun amnesty should help. But that’s not always a method that’s shown to be 100-percent effective.

“So we’ve seen mixed results in other jurisdictions within the UK and the part of Ireland that I worked in,” Mr. Byrne said. “It’s down to community. It’s down to the level of engagement by the community.

“I can’t forecast what the results might be at the moment but I certainly do believe that it’s something we should be doing.”

Mr. Byrne says it’s hard to estimate the number of illegal guns on the street but an increase in seizures means they are there. He says the gun amnesty should start middle to late May.

About the author

Kevin Morales

Kevin Morales

Cayman 27 News Director Kevin Morales is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience. Kevin is a Milwaukee, Wis., native. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. He's a proud father and a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and U of M Golden Gophers.

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