Police review staffing

Eleven expatriate police officers have resigned from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service since the beginning of 2008, according to figures provided by the department last week.

Responding to questions from the Caymanian Compass, police officials said exit interviews were conducted with the officers, most of them by Acting Police Commissioner David George since he took the job in late March.

According to police, none of the officers who have resigned this year mentioned the proposed implementation of a term limit on foreign-born civil servants’ residency as a reason for their leaving.

There have been rumours and unconfirmed reports since last year of expatriate RCIPS officers departing en masse following Governor Stuart Jack’s announcement that the term limit or rollover policy would be applied to civil servants.

The Cayman Islands places a seven year limit on private sector workers’ residency if they are not Caymanian, unless those people are granted key employee status. A key employee is allowed to stay in Cayman for nine consecutive years, which gives them the opportunity to apply for permanent residence if they wish.

No similar policy has been created for foreigners working here on civil service employment contracts, including police officers.

Overall, police department staffing levels have fallen slightly from last year. In August 2007, the Compass reported there were 365 RCIPS officers employed on the islands. Right now, the department has 350 officers.

The RCIPS has not hosted a cadet training class in 2008, although a department spokesperson said recruits’ applications had been vetted and there were plans to hold one soon.

An overall needs assessment survey is being conducted within the police service to determine appropriate staffing levels and use of police officers in the various patrol districts and specialty units.

Earlier this year, Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan met with Governor Jack to discuss a proposal that would exempt all foreign-born police officers from the proposed civil servant rollover policy. A similar exemption exists in the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda.

The governor’s office has never commented on the police service’s request for exemption, although it is up to the Governor to determine which civil service agencies, if any, are exempted from the term limit policy when it is implemented.

Deputy Head of the Civil Service Peter Gough has said government recognises RCIPS will be one of the worst affected departments once the term limit policy for civil servants takes effect. Other departments that employ a significant number of foreign nationals on contracts include Education, Children and Family Services, Environmental Health, and Agriculture.

Since few details have been released about the term limit plan for government workers, it’s difficult to determine how many people might be affected.

A review of immigration statistics earlier this month found 1,348 people working here on government contracts. Presumably those are all foreign nationals since a Caymanian would not require a government contract to work, in the same way they would not need a work permit to be employed in the private sector.

The total number of civil servants working in government is believed to be around 3,500. An additional 1,000 people are employed by statutory authorities and government companies, but most of those entities already require expatriate workers to get work permits.