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Preparing Our Protectors

Deputy Chief Immigration Officer (Administration) Samantha Bennett meets the recruits.

"In order to become immigration officers, you must first pass this training programme," Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans told the new batch of recruits to her department.

These 11 men and women are the first officers taken on since 2007.

The month-long Immigration Recruit Basic Training Course covers topics such as forgery detection; interview techniques; behaviour analysis; enforcement; and intelligence.

"You have an awesome responsibility and a delicate balancing act, as both gatekeepers and goodwill ambassadors for the Cayman Islands," Ms Evans said.

She emphasised the need for teamwork "in an unpredictable environment," and admonished them to take pride in their positions, "whether you are in uniform, or not."

Because of the department's philosophy of providing good customer service, the trainees are being instructed in subjects such as public communication and ethics.

The training includes field exercises and tactical training, as well as classroom presentations. Some sessions are led by other government agencies, including the departments of Tourism, Prisons, Customs and - to emphasise the use of technology -Computer Services. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will conduct training on ethics, interviewing, target identification and law enforcement, while a private law firm will conduct training on the Immigration Law and Regulations.

Mr. Franz Manderson, a career civil servant, was the class' first lecturer.

He told of how he progressed from being a filing clerk on high-school work experience, to joining the Department in 1981, becoming an experienced immigration officer, to heading the Immigration department from 2004 to 2009. Now, as the Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Mr. Manderson has oversight of the entire portfolio, under which the department falls.

His respect for the position and the uniform, as well as the serious and dedicated approach to the various challenges as they arose, were the foundation upon which Mr. Manderson based his civil service career.

Noting that the officers deal with many issues - from sham marriages to employment matters - Mr. Manderson directed them to learn local legislation, as well as international rules, governing people such as asylum-seekers and refugees.

Encouraging officers not to be judgemental or discriminatory, he added, "Your business is dealing with facts and certainty, while treating everyone fairly and consistently."

Giving an overview of the department's history, he highlighted critical occurrences such as the Cuban refugee crisis, and the ensuing policy changes; and the immigration issues surrounding Hurricane Ivan.

Indicative of this group's significance, other Immigration officials who attended the training modules included Deputy Chief Immigration Officer (Enforcement) Bruce Smith; Deputy Chief Immigration Officer (Administration) Samantha Bennett; Policy and Strategic Management Director Christopher Aiken; and HR Manager Martha Bush.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Lennon Christian