Police administration gone wrong

Editor’s note: This letter is longer than is usually accepted by the Caymanian Compass. We are letting it run in this length because we have tried numerous times to interview Mr. Shaun Ebanks about his departure from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. This is how he chose to answer our queries.

I do hope that the horrific crime against Estella Scott-Roberts is solved very quickly and all evidence gathered becomes admissible in a Grand Court trial.

The criminal(s) responsible for this act need(s) to be quickly apprehended, charged and subsequently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Once in prison, be placed in solitary confinement for the entire time where I hope he/she/they will never escape and should die a miserable death at Northward Prison.

The heading of my article needs to be explained in detail.

I am a former member of the RCIPS for almost 19 years and rose through the ranks to conclude as a detective chief inspector. My last posting was officer in charge of the Drugs Task Force until my untimely departure in February 2006. I served my country with loyalty, honesty/integrity, courage, respect and honour and never once was subject to any criminal or disciplinary investigation or other reprimand. I resigned with an unblemished record for which I was proud to have maintained over the years.

The police administrations over the years invested what I would estimate to be in excess of $100,000 for me to be trained and qualified as an investigator/manager in the local and overseas training I successfully completed. I loved my job and often sacrificed much of my personal family life to do what I enjoyed most; being a crime fighter.

The RCIPS was good to me and I tried my utmost best to give back as much as I could to it and the community I had taken a sworn oath and obligation to do.

I sincerely believed and operated from the principle that to be a great team leader one should be dedicated, resourceful, objective, consistent, and persistent and recognise collectively your staff accomplishments but be firm and fair of any of their shortcomings.

Multi-tasking skills is a must to complete your administrative duties on time but on the other hand, lead your team from the front in the field or otherwise to accomplish specific goals and objectives set by your organisation to achieve. The mentality of sitting idly by in the ivory tower drinking coffee/tea, disconnected with your team in the field or otherwise, checking your e-mails and chatting on the phone all day long, enduring repetitive inter-department meetings on the same issues four to five times per week, is absolutely a waste of time. Trust me; that was very prevalent in the RCIPS from the many so called leaders that I knew up until my departure.

Over the past (2 3/4 yrs) I have remained out of the public domain, concerning my resignation. This was so, even though members of the media on multiple occasions contacted me locally and overseas wanting to get an interview concerning my resignation along with others and ‘the inside loop’ of the RCIPS back then.

I chose to remain silent to see if time would prove me wrong. Happily I and others have now been proven correct and they were proven to be so absolutely wrong. As Mr. Mckeeva Bush often refers to the failures and shortcoming of others in his speeches, ‘ I told you so but you just wouldn’t listen’

Following the submission of my resignation to then Commissioner Kernohan whom I had a couple of meetings with, he requested that I reconsider the withdrawal of my resignation and move forward with him in his Strategic Plan for the RCIPS. He repeated that he did not want to lose my experience and positive performance.

I began to reconsider the withdrawal and requested the immediate return of my staff, which had been away from the office and on Patrick Island and other locations doing security work for about six months. This was more or less agreed upon but a later date it became obvious that this would continue for an undetermined period of time. Truthfully, the DTF appeared to me to be no longer important in the eyes of the commissioner and his deputy commissioner of operations and I got fed up with both of them in what I honestly believed was a service moving in a direction that I no longer wanted to be a part of. There were other internal issues/grievances as well but it’s all water under the bridge now and perhaps some things are better not said, which could add more fuel to the fire that is now burning out of control in the RCIPS.

Many of you would have recalled the spate of murders and other violent acts that occurred following Hurricane Ivan.

We had police officers who left the service without notice, no dwellings to call home, broken relationships, terrible logistics, understaffing and a police service that was seriously under funded to perform in its recovery and function. In fact, some of this still existed up until my departure in early 2006.

Even though we had many problems in functioning efficiently/effectively following the hurricane, we somehow were able to gather primary evidence that later became admissible in Grand Court. This secured the convictions for the two ‘gang bosses’ responsible for causing much of the havoc that we were experiencing back then. By the time these convictions came about, the administration at the Police Service had changed significantly. The new administration, headed by Commissioner Kernohan, then claimed victory/praise and gave the public the perception that this was accomplished by their skilled efforts and tactics. The record needs to be corrected and put straight. The dismantling of these two organised gangs did not come as result of the Stuart Kernohan’s administration; only the convictions came about on his watch.

The arrests and admissible evidence that secured the convictions had long been obtained before his appointment as commissioner.

Ladies and gentlemen, you won’t get a conviction in court today without properly gathering evidence from the onset of any investigation.

It made me laugh to see the statistics reported to the media as to a decrease in crime due to so called strategic and proactive policing, comparing the year 2006 to that of 2005. Of course there would be a reduction, but as Derek Haines quite rightly stated in an article to the media, there would be a reduction but not reflective of proactive policing. This is so, mainly because the months following the hurricane leading to the end of 2005, person(s), businesses, residences and vehicles were insecure and subject of random crimes causing the crime figures to be inflated.

After some 27 months had passed ending to 2006, these would have naturally subsided with persons securing their properties etc.

Around August/September 2005, as mentioned earlier, the public would recall the ‘Patrick Island’ incident where criminals had targeted a residence there. At the time of these offences, I was on overseas training. This was a major crime causing panic that gripped government officials and the community, similar to which we are now seeing with the Estella Scott- Roberts killing.

During this time the Drugs Task Force for which I was second in command, took on the responsibility of providing security for members of the judiciary and their families 24 hours a day and seven days a week. As a result of this we had a crucial department (DTF) responsible for securing our borders against firearm and drug smuggling, becoming literally non-existent overnight. We literally had tenacious crime fighting DTF officers protecting families on 12 hour shifts costing the tax payers well over $1 million, while criminals took advantage of our open borders and reorganised themselves. Despite numerous efforts by myself in meetings with both Stuart Kernohan and Anthony Ennis in late 2005 and early 2006, to rotate the security responsibilities around the various departments of the RCIPS or consider external options, this fell on deaf ears. They both were content to have a non-existent Drugs Task Force out of commission for almost a year.

For months on end I had very trusted and proven sources providing me information that imported illegal drugs/firearms and stolen property exiting the country, was arriving at particular locations along our coastline both day and night. With my hands literally tied behind my back with no staff to call upon, I couldn’t do anything to intercept these crimes. This was unacceptable to me as a crime fighter. The new administration even saw it appropriate to disarm the department, which had this capability for some 30 plus years going back to the 1970s. Instead of going forward, we were going full a-stern in the Drugs Task Force. This continued for about six months or so and finally led to my departure but continued on for many months following.

During the time period in question a new generation of Vipers began reorganising and establishing themselves in organised crime. With no strategic plan or pro-active direction coming from Gold Command to actively monitor, engage and intercept these illegal drugs/firearms back then, and in the years that followed, we are now back to square one; a crime wave consisting of Vipers that is now well established and organised and striking out with its deadly venom at the community with murders and other despicable crimes, many of which are unsolved today.

One has to ask the question in this modern age of policing, does the RCIPS have ‘a cold case unit’ consisting of a least two seasoned detectives, to pursue the justice required for these serious unsolved crimes of the past?

Instead of tacking serious crimes such as illegal trafficking of drugs and firearms which are responsible for about 75 per cent of thefts, burglaries, robberies, murders, rapes, domestic violence etc, the administration concentrated on road blocks for traffic related violations. Broken head/tail lights, expired registration coupons, seatbelts etc. was the order of the day. One just had to see the misdemeanour offences that increased with congestion in our Traffic Courts during these times in question, to see that what I’m saying is the truth. What are the results I ask of their constructive ‘front line and high visibility policing’ road blocks back then? The answer: fatal accidents sky rocketing on our roads, in figures like we have never ever seen in past years and still continuing up until today.

I could only wish that when I was at DTF in full operational duties with my team of committed and competent staff, had we been charged along with our earlier administration to secure our borders with part funding around $3 million, I can assure you we would have delivered positive and tangible results. Those results would certainly not have been a UK helicopter that can’t seem to get off the ground in the United States after such a prolonged period.

In fact, the direction that should have been followed was a few phone calls and a visit or two, to the Drug Enforcement Administration in the US, with which we have established a great relationship over the years. Thanks to real crime fighters like Derek Haines and Greg Thompson who established this relationship with the DEA, that led to many, many successful operations both locally and internationally over the years.

Ten of thousands of dollars were even deposited into CI government treasury from these operations with assets seized from criminal enterprises that were dismantled through the co-operation of DTF and the DEA in the United States. The DEA even donated quite a bit of equipment and loaned technical assistance to us for many months on end as well.

They would have given us all of the equipment we needed to take care of our borders; some of it literally parked and waiting to be given away or for pennies on the dollar, especially with the cooperation we developed with them. After all, it was/is in the United States interest to work closely with us in the Caribbean as we are listed as a transhipment point like many others in the Caribbean Islands, for drugs and firearms smuggling into the US jurisdiction.

The outcome of this would have been more cost effective to the tax payers and more monies in reserve to be available for police training and allocation of funds to aspiring Caymanians to attend universities both locally and abroad. Additionally, some funds could have supported local programmes for the youth in schools and after school; even monies to address some of the social ills that exist in our society today, including Domestic Violence and others.

I have been out of the RCIPS for quite some time now and certainly don’t have any plans whatsoever of ever applying for
re-enlistment. I do however keep in regular contact with many fine police officers and civilian staff whom I know are true to their job, honest and hard working. My feedback is that the Police Service is suffering presently from serious morale problems, many officers want out, it’s understaffed, there area serious senior officer internal conflicts and resentment from an un-cooperative and resentful public. How much more serious can it get for the RCIPS?

This is a very sad in every respect and very complicated to solve. One thing that I do know for sure is that not all current RCIPS officers are corrupt and unethical as is being implied by some who pretend to be sympathetic, but deep down they have no genuine and sincere interest for the well being of the Cayman Islands or the RCIPS.

Sorry to burst your bubble but we know the past history, which is not a pretty one and we have paid very dearly for it.

Many police officers such as Detective Inspector Kim Evans, whom I have known for many years but have not communicated with recently, are hard working and is as honest to the bone as you can find today in any good police officer. He and others would like your support and help solve Estella Scott-Roberts murder and other serious unsolved crimes. I would advise those having crucial information to also consider calling Cayman Crime Stoppers sharing the information, which is needed to immediately halt this fear that has gripped our society.

May God Bless these Cayman Islands and especially the RCIPS, which is in much need of prayer and support from the Caymanian public.

Shaun Ebanks