Joint Marine Unit
The RCIPS Joint Marine Unit (JMU) is comprised of officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), Customs and Immigration Departments who work jointly to protect the borders of the Cayman Islands. Primarily, they work to interdict drugs, firearms, and persons entering the jurisdiction illegally. Throughout 2017 the JMU has seized 898lbs. of ganja in marine interdictions, assisted in the recovery of two firearms found with these drugs, and captured six persons attempting to illegally land on the islands. These marine interdictions were performed in operations with the Drugs and Serious Crimes Task Force (DSCTF).
Strengthening the enforcement of marine safety and conservation regulations, in conjunction with other government departments, is also a priority for the JMU. Marine officers regularly assist Port Authority with patrols of waterborne tourist areas around Grand Cayman, and conduct maritime safety checks of boats and disrupting illegal or unsafe activities. The JMU also partners with officers from the Department of Environment (DOE) to enforce protections for marine life set forth under the Cayman Islands National Conservation Law (http://www.gov.ky/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/12326595.PDF).
Marine officers are regularly involved with lifesaving efforts at sea. They assist vessels in distress and have conducted several search and rescue operations, often together with the Air Operations Unit (AOU), despite the small size and fleet of the unit. These search and rescue operations can involve vessels believed to be adrift, but also concern snorkelers, swimmers and divers along the shoreline who fall into difficulties. As of 31 October, the JMU had responded to eighty-four vessels in distress calls throughout 2017. Following a report produced by the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency in January 2017 (link – need to find official link), the Cayman Islands Government has allocated funding to repair boats and reinforce the marine fleet’s capacity to execute search and rescue and border security activities. As of the conclusion of 2017, these repairs are well underway.
Marine officers are also tasked with investigating marine property thefts, water-related deaths and any other police-related marine incidents.
At the conclusion of 2017, the JMU consists of 1 sergeant, 8 constables, 2 Customs Officers and 1 Immigration Officer. Some officers are trained to an advanced level to operate police vessels, and some also have specialized training as rescue divers, and paramedics. All officers in the JMU are trained to carry firearms.
Work as a marine officer often entails long hours on the open water, especially during search and rescue operations, or police operations. Law enforcement and rescue efforts on the water can entail a wider set of risks than police work on land, which JMU officers willingly embrace for the sake of protecting these islands from external threats and saving those at sea in life-threatening circumstances.