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Police now offering cash for your cache

Robert Baraud (left) with Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden

Police announced yesterday a one-month extension of the recent gun amnesty, offering $200 for every operable firearm and $25 for every 10 rounds of ammunition.

The 1-31 Aug extension, in conjunction with digital billboard king Robert Baraud, owner of High Impact Media, comes after expiry of the 1-31 July RCIPS amnesty that yielded only two firearms – a shotgun and a rifle – and 104 rounds of ammunition.

Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden pronounced himself “disappointed” by the “stage one” response, but soft-pedaled the significance of the results, saying “every gun removed from the street has potentially saved a life’, and thanking the public for its support.

Mr Baraud said his company would fund the extension, paying for the firearms and ammunition, and was ready “to hand over $2,000 to the RCIPS” immediately.

“The money,” he said, “was coming from public donations, individuals and corporations. My company will underwrite the effort, and make sure the RCIP is equipped with funds.” High Impact Media had already appointed a chartered accountant, Angilynn Chan, to produce formal paperwork, tracking cash and materials.

The new campaign, dubbed Operation Cash ‘n’ Guns, started yesterday, Mr Bodden said, “following the recent increase in armed robberies and the shooting incidents in Red Bay and Bodden Town”, a reference to the 29 June shooting of Cayman Islands Brewery Assistant Brewer Kemar Golding and the 13 July attack on Medsadie Connor at Lorna’s Texaco in Bodden Town.

While both robberies were thwarted, the assailants escaped. Police are treating the attacks as attempted murder. No arrests have been made, and Mr Bodden said no evidence linked the two crimes.

“We are grateful to High Impact Media for the support they have offered in relation to raising sponsorship for this new approach – cash for guns,” Mr Bodden said. “We have said before that we will do whatever we can to persuade people to hand in their guns. If a few hundred dollars is the price we have to pay to encourage people to do the right thing, we’re happy to do that, knowing that, as a result, lives will be saved.”

Yesterday’s move follows a similar November 2005 “Ceasefire” programme, sponsored by Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and overseen by former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, in which $400 Chamber of Commerce vouchers were offered for each of the 20 unlicenced firearms that were handed to members of the Cayman Islands Ministers Association. The Ceasefire amnesty, however, did not apply to firearms linked to a crime.

The Chamber of Commerce has also sponsored at least two similar programmes, said Chamber CEO Wil Pineau, and possibly as many as four through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

“We did the gun buy-back and have done others. They were structured programmes,” he said, and sought to avoid such issues as providing cash to criminals to purchase new guns or enabling people to divest evidence in gun crimes.

Last year, Police Commissioner David Baines launched a 19 May-20 June gun amnesty yielding 26 weapons including shotguns, revolvers, pistols, rifles, flare guns, bows and arrows, a crossbow, a taser, detonators and a grenade. At the same time, 233 rounds of ammunition were collected.

Mr Bodden said guns and ammunition could be turned into police station in George Town, Bodden Town, West Bay and Cayman Brac, but said they must be “operable”.

He said police were not discouraged by the failure so far of rewards offered for information about the Golding and Connor assailants, saying “we will continue to do whatever we can to give added incentives. If just a few dollars will save a life we will take the opportunity. All we can do is support hope.”

He conceded that police could not control the use of the $200 reward, and that if police collected guns that detectives ultimately linked to crimes, officers could do little.

“We don’t take names, so we would have to continue police investigations,” he said. “”We continue to work diligently and continue to ask the public for their help — any way we can get information to bring the culprits to justice.”

After 31 August, he said, police would seek public opinion before deciding next steps.


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