Police force ranks unsettled

As a former senior officer of the RCIPS please allow me to voice several concerns publicly on behalf of numerous RCIPS officers whom I have communicated with recently.

Their voices should be heard and not be silenced by documentation designed for muzzling the mouths of public/civil servants. Even the Freedom of Information Law is now unravelling the strings that once gagged the throats of Government departments and statutory authorities into secrecy.

I would add that the majority of the statements expressed to me, I did not go about attempting to solicit these. I believe these concerns, which were shared, were due to my former position that I held in the RCIPS, my approachable disposition and my untimely departure as reported in a lengthy article to the Caymanian Compass in October 2008.

While police officers (both senior and junior in ranks) expressed their concerns, I sensed frustration and anger in their demeanour. I will attempt to give an overview of the RCIPS as were expressed to me. I’m hoping this will stimulate some positive changes, hopefully more sooner than later.

Loss of public trust/confidence: Both senior and junior officers are of the firm belief that the Cayman Islands public no longer has the trust and confidence in the RCIPS due to the many serious undetected crimes and recent scandals.

They allege/believe that many of these scandals were carefully orchestrated from sources outside and within, whose aim was to ultimately destroy the reputation of the RCIPS and the Cayman Islands as a whole.

Sense of disappointment: Many police officers expressed a sense of absolute disappointment particularly in a PPM government funded project for the RCIPS that lacked serious oversight, only now to be deemed inappropriate at the end of the day.

Disappointment in Gold Command administrators: Officers in ranks below expressed disappointment and dismay in their Gold Command administrators who they say embraced foreign policing practices, despite overwhelming concerns and strong opposition amongst the ranks. However, with the passage of time, practically all of these local Gold Command officers are now expressing their views openly that these policing practices are totally flawed and ineffective in the prevention and detection of crime in the Cayman Islands.

Recruitment: Police officers agree that recruitment should fall under Human Resources. However, they strongly disagree that for police applicants who could later become the guardians of national security, it’s totally inappropriate for this task to be assigned to a civilian HR manager with no policing or security related experience. Although the final approval for employment lies with a Gold Command officer, it’s a mere formality at this stage.

Police officer’s personal safety: Many front-line police officers expressed serious personal safety concerns again due to the implementation of these imported policing policies/practices, which they claim were implemented overnight without reasonable input or debate from local officers. These policies, they claim, have no regard for the Caribbean culture and its role of policing in these societies. Additionally, they express deep concern at the increase in the high calibre of illegal firearms that criminals now have available at their disposal including body armour, which proves that they are ready to fight law enforcement into battle in a tight corner.

Prevention/detection of crime: Due to officers’ personal safety concerns, they have now decided to become more reactive than proactive. As a result of this, during the early forming of crimes, this is missed by the police due to their reactive approach. Once the crime is committed, with no prior intelligence or proactive policing, many crimes go unsolved and adding to this, no information forthcoming from an uncooperative public. The public and the media on the other hand, are spoon fed in the meantime with so called high visibility policing in the number of road blocks that usually result in minor traffic tickets being issued which continues to clog the court system.

Police commissioner appointment: Officers expressed that they are disappointed and puzzled that despite the number of replacements in acting police commissioners recently, their present deputy commissioner appears not to have the desire or confidence to assume this post as their new commander in chief.

Expected departure of senior officers: Officers in lower ranks express serious concerns that approximately 70 per cent of their upper local senior officers whom they seek for guidance and to extract from their experience, are now prepared to exit the RCIPS at the first available opportunity. These officers have now submitted applications for employment in other Government departments and in the private sector. Many of their applications have now been processed and officers are anxiously awaiting upcoming interviews.

In closing, may I recommend to the present acting commissioner of police to adopt an open door policy as much as possible to listen to your staff concerns and deliver to their needs appropriately. In turn, they will work hard for you and deliver to the public that expects very much these days. If you adopt an ‘I know it all and do as I say attitude’ and lock yourself away in an ivory tower, which requires several check points to enter, you should pack your bags now and board the next available British Airways flight back to the UK, similarly to what Mr. Royce Hipgrave did.

Shaun Ebanks