Cabinet ministers this week advocated the creation of a performance evaluation system to determine whether the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is doing its job.
‘Since being elected, this government has voted more than 50 million dollars to provide the RCIPS with the necessary resources,’ Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said. ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’
At a Thursday press briefing, ministers struck a more conciliatory tone than they had earlier in the week and asked that police officers and members of the public continue to work with one another.
But a spate of major crimes over the past weekend was clearly an issue that had both sides of government concerned.
Education Minister Alden McLaughlin told a group of West Bay residents Monday night during a Constitutional Review Secretariat meeting that the ‘crime wave’ over the weekend was one reason why the elected arm of government needed to play a role in law enforcement policy.
The government has proposed the creation of a six-member National Security Council, made up of both elected and appointed government officials, to help direct RCIPS efforts.
Right now, the Cayman Islands governor has sole responsibility for law enforcement matters. The police commissioner, chief immigration officer, and customs collector are not required to brief elected officials on any of their operations.
‘(Constituents) expect that the elected government is responsible and we feel responsible,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘But we’re eunuchs as far as the constitution is concerned.’
Mr. McLaughlin said the elected government doesn’t want to get into day-to-day department management issues, such as officer appointments, promotions and the like. But he said the Security Council should have some input on department policy and policing strategy.
‘So that when things aren’t working, as they clearly aren’t now, we can hold somebody accountable,’ he said.
Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, during a Monday press conference, denied that police efforts simply weren’t working.
Mr. Kernohan pointed to a steady, if not spectacular drop in violent crime over the past three years in Cayman. RCIPS statistics show violent offences dropped by some 32 per cent from the beginning of 2006 to the end of 2007, and by 40 percent from January 2005 to December 2007.
Crimes that the RCIPS considers more minor in nature, often referred to as ‘volume’ crimes, have risen in recent months. Crimes such as thefts, threatening assaults, domestic violence and minor assaults have all increased significantly.
Governor Stuart Jack said the two stabbings and the shooting last weekend were events that are not normally seen in Cayman. He said the department was taking them seriously, but urged people to put the crimes in perspective.
‘The Cayman Islands continues to be…one of the safest jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere,’ Mr. Jack said.
Mr. Tibbetts said problems occur in part because the elected government has no method by which to judge police performance. He said budget outputs are submitted by the police service during each fiscal year, but that no report is ever made to elected ministers on whether those outputs were achieved.
‘We’re simply speaking to checks and balances,’ Mr. Tibbetts said, adding that a National Security Council could assist in monitoring police performance standards.
The RCIPS has not produced an annual report on its activities for the last several years. Police spokesperson Deborah Denis said updated reports are being worked on and that the 2005-2006 report should be released shortly.