Today’s Editorial for September 18: Time for hard decisions

Considering our story today regarding the cost of the on-going UK Met police investigation, the Caymanian Compass feels it is time for local officials to consider their long-term goals for the police service.

The report and this editorial are not in any way meant to criticise Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger or his dedicated team of officers, though we realise it may be spun that way in certain sectors of government and the public. The UK Met officers’ work has led to some tangible results, and to the extent that those results help weed out corruption and misconduct in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, we applaud them.

But there are also the following issues to consider:

It is nigh on impossible that Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan will ever be able to serve in that position again in these Islands. Following last week’s highly publicised dispute with both Cabinet Ministers and Governor Stuart Jack, it seems Mr. Kernohan has few supporters left in the upper echelons of government regardless of his actual performance on the job.

Deputy Police Commissioner Rudi Dixon faces what’s likely to be a lengthy legal process on charges of misconduct and acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. Even if Mr. Dixon is cleared of all charges and is not disciplined by the RCIPS, he will not be able to return to his former position for a long time, if at all.

Rumours have been rampant since the spring that Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis, having been cleared of any wrong-doing in the first stage of the UK Met officers’ probe, is poised to retire from the service though department officials have denied it.

Notwithstanding their work to date, the UK Met police team cannot stay in the Cayman Islands forever. Neither can Acting Commissioner David George, who, according to our understanding, was never intended as a full-time replacement for Mr. Kernohan.

Even if Chief Superintendent John Jones, the third police commander placed on leave by Governor Jack, returns to RCIPS, it seems the police service is in need of some permanent form of leadership at the least.

There are grave issues that must be addressed within the RCIPS.

Compass reporters have heard time and again of evidence handling foul ups in court; errors made by untrained or careless officers.

There are stories of a mass exodus of foreign officers, particularly those from the UK, resigning or simply not renewing their contracts for various reasons.

We are told of police officers simply driving around all day and not responding to calls when needed, verbally abusing people during traffic and pedestrian stops, or showing up for work inebriated.

Although the department has refused to release officers’ pay scales despite numerous requests, someone in authority should be reviewing the police remuneration issue to see whether our island is competitive in recruiting.

With just these problems, and these are by no means all, it’s easy to understand why good officers, both Caymanian and expatriate, simply give up and leave the force. This situation cannot be right.

We hope the Governor, when the dust of the UK Met investigation finally clears, will give as much attention to the rebuilding of the RCIPS as he has in attempting to correct corrupt and improper behaviour in public office.

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