Forty-nine police officers left the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service since January 2008, with more than half of them having resigned.
Of the 27 police officers who have resigned from the RCIPS since January 2008 14 were from the United Kingdom.
The data, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information request, shows that a total of 49 police officers, including Caymanians and expatriates, have either resigned, ended their contracts, taken a leave of absence, or retired since the first of last year and mid-February 2009.
That’s between 12 and 14 per cent of the total number of officers believed to be employed within RCIPS, according to the latest figures provided by the service.
The RCIPS has lost 10 veteran officers to retirement during that period. All ten of those cops were Caymanians with between 20 and 39 years of experience on the force.
Nine police officers have ended their contracts; six of them were from the UK, the others were from Cayman, Jamaica and Colombia. One UK officer’s contract was not renewed, and two other Caymanian officers took leaves of absence.
Of the 27 who resigned, 14 were from the United Kingdom, four were Jamaican, four were Caymanians, two were Canadian, one was South African, one was from Trinidad and one hailed from Bulgaria.
Forty-three per cent of all the RCIPS-leavers over the past 13 months were from the UK. Thirty-five per cent of those who left were Caymanians. Most of the Caymanians who departed did so through retirement; most of the UK cops resigned before their current contracts were finished.
Twelve of the 14 resignations by UK officers happened on 4 April, 2008 or later. That’s after the current internal investigation into the RCIPS by officers from the UK Metropolitan Police was announced on 27 March, 2008.
Concerns have been expressed recently at a series of police-community meetings around the islands about staffing levels at RCIPS, and whether there are enough officers to maintain a viable neighbourhood policing service. Lawmakers in several districts have complained about neighbourhood police officers being pulled away from those duties to perform routine patrols.
In 2007, the Caymanian Compass reported there were 365 police officers employed by RCIPS. In January, the newspaper quoted department officials as saying that number had dropped to 343 officers.
During a recent meeting with the public in West Bay, Acting Police Commissioner James Smith estimated the service was down about 30 officers from where it had been previously.
Mr. Smith was asked by the Compass in January whether he thought there were enough officers on the force.
‘Any chief officer will probably tell you he hasn’t got enough,’ he said. ‘What I need to be sure of is that we’ve got the right people doing the right jobs.’
The acting commissioner did have concern about the number of ‘other tasks’ the RCIPS was being asked to pick up, including the licensing of security guards and security companies.
‘I probably want to make a case to Cabinet to make sure the revenue from that (security guard licensing) comes back to staff it,’ Mr. Smith said.
The RCIPS did not graduate a cadet training class in 2008. There are plans to host one before the end of the current budget year on 30 June.
The number of Caymanians employed in the police service has also been at issue in the most recent round of police meetings. According to figures the department released last year, Caymanians made up 62 per cent of RCIPS officers. It’s unknown how the most recent officers’ departures have affected those numbers.