Conservation officers from the Department of Environment (DoE) recently completed a series of courses in order to implement new provisions of the National Conservation Law, which expand their powers to protect the marine and terrestrial environment.

The officers now have enhanced enforcement capabilities, including powers of arrest, seizure of vessels and vehicles used in the commission of an offence, and the ability to carry defensive equipment including batons, pepper spray and Tasers.

The courses were conducted by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Training Unit staff, and covered topics such as effecting an arrest, welfare and care of suspects, reasonable use of force, and the use of defensive equipment. In conjunction with the training, the DoE developed comprehensive operating procedures for the use and security of arms, incident reporting and investigations following use of force, and standards for training.

'The safety of the conservation officers has long been a concern for DoE as they often conduct single-man patrols and, in the past, officers have been attacked and threatened with violence. Thanks to the support and assistance of the RCIPS, we hope that introducing non-lethal defensive weapons will reduce the reoccurrence of these types of incidents.

'Although it is hoped that the equipment will primarily serve as a deterrent, the DoE is particularly pleased with the provision of Tasers which incorporate a video camera to record an incident. The video and audio recordings serve to protect both the officer and the suspect, and ensure use of the Taser is justified', said DoE Deputy Director for Operations and Enforcement Scott Slaybaugh.

From left, Conservation Officer Carl Edwards, Conservation Officer Maggie Baldino,
RCIPS Sergeant/Instructor Richard Laws, Conservation Officer Sean Ladley,
DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie, DoE Deputy Director Scott Slaybaugh,
Conservation Enforcement Supervisor Ronnie Dougall, Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr,
Conservation Officer Chadd Bush, RCIPS Constable / Instructor Gabe Rabess.
Not pictured Conservation Officer Leonard Hydes and Conservation Officer Sister Islands Erbin Tibbetts.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.