Today’s Editorial April 24: Avoiding a crisis

The Government threatened last Friday to refuse approving funding for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service unless it is allowed access to the weekly police briefing.

Historically, elected officials have not been invited to the police briefings, although the governor and chief secretary have.

The Cabinet is arguing that things are different now, and that the public expects the elected government to be in the know when it comes to many issues affecting the security of these islands.

Take the situation with the Cuban migrants, for example. About 30 people escaped from a detention camp, held a march and blocked traffic in the middle of George Town in view of cruise ship tourists, and the elected government did not even know about it at the time. Making matters worse, they still were not in a position to answer questions about it six days later.

The time has come when the elected officials should, at the very least, have open access to the police briefings. The Cabinet, and by extension the people who elected them, have a right to know about most security issues that affect them, accepting, of course, that some things would have to remain confidential for reasons of national security.

While it would like some input on decision making, the Cabinet has made it clear it is not seeking to control the police; only to be in the information loop the same way the Governor and Chief Secretary are.

The Cabinet thinks it is undemocratic to have such a small body of people making all of the security decisions.

Having this small body accountable to no one certainly could lead to abuses. The revelations of the EuroBank trial proved that and should forever make the people of these islands at least a bit suspicious of what goes on behind closed doors in relation to security issues.

However, refusing funding to the police is an answer in the line with cutting off your nose to spite your face. Now that the RCIPS has so effectively reduced crime here, refusing it funding is the last thing that should happen.

Instead, the Governor should allow the Cabinet to send one of its members to the weekly police briefings, thereby avoiding this potential crisis and acknowledging that the public should have the right to know what is going on in this country when it comes to most security issues.

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