May 12, 2021

Cayman Islands ‘Operation Spearfish’ spawns training

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Group overallCustoms and Police officers involved in ‘Operation Spearfish’ last week underwent intensive training in searching techniques and officer safety awareness at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI).

The joint ongoing exercise looked to uncover suspected stolen goods being exported in shipping containers and involved 25 Customs and four Police officers as well as sniffer dogs. More operations are to follow in the coming days and weeks, authorities said.

Participants learned how to effectively search persons, vehicles and buildings; and how to complete all relevant documentation and paperwork, as well as enhancing their understanding of the discipline involved in working under a team leader, explained Assistant Collector of Customs Jeff Jackson. He coordinated as well as taught the course, along with Police Sergeants Jonathan Horner and Daniel Cowan of the Operational and Uniform Support Groups.

Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett presented the officers with their certificates on Tuesday, 29 July 2014.

Congratulating them for their keen participation, the Collector underscored the importance of how searches are conducted, which could determine the success or failure of the investigations.

Customs Training Manager Langlie Powery emphasised that learning, whether it occurred on the job or in the classroom, would help them to “work smarter”.

Mr Powery noted that the training would prove useful to seasoned officers as a refresher course in search skills, but would also be invaluable to newcomers.

The Customs Department is currently reviewing its systems and processes to enhance its ability to interdict transhipment of stolen goods. Changes include moving goods meant for export into a special area prior to them being loaded, ACO Jackson said.

“Cargo containers are a major area of concern in terms of security and vulnerability. The process of securing, tracking and inspecting them at various locations can sometimes be difficult and involves considerable manpower,” he explained.

Stolen goods can remain undetected even by high-tech solutions including x-rays, especially when decisions have to be made quickly to avoid delays and negative impact on legitimate trade, he pointed out.

“At the same time, the loopholes in detection and detention of stolen goods must be closed and the process reinforced. Interception of stolen goods should never be by luck or chance,” he said.

Collector Bennett also stated that a review of the process of exporting full containers with personal items is currently underway. This will be streamlined to be monitored in a controlled environment to mitigate any risk factors of not only stolen items leaving the country but also prohibited items. “However, our approach has to be one that is practical, assuming that the majority of items that are exported on a normal basis are done so in a compliant manner. We hope to have the new process in place by the end of August,” Mrs. Bennett added.

Photo captions: Photos by Bina Mani GIS

Group: Trainee officers from Customs and Police, with Customs Collector Samantha Bennett, senior Customs Officers and trainers.

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