Today’s Editorial July 17: Trial and error

Caymanian Compass readers will note that we have been following with particular intensity the on-going murder trial of William McLaughlin Martinez in this week’s editions.

This trial is obviously of great public interest to the community and surely is critically important to the families of the victim, 20-year-old Brian Rankine, as well as the suspect, Mr. McLaughlin Martinez.

But, sadly, it appears the facts of the case have been somewhat overshadowed again by what defence attorneys have described, and what police in part have admitted to, as a series of fairly bad mistakes made in this investigation.

We also were quite dismayed by the near collapse of Detective Sergeant Lauriston Burton on the witness stand, apparently suffering from overwork and exhaustion. We fervently hope Mr. Burton is all right; this community needs him.

This trial has shown us, more even than the recent triple shooting in West Bay, that it is time to start taking policing seriously in the Cayman Islands.

We are hopeful there will be some results, finally, from internal police investigations being conducted under the heading of Operation Cealt. Thus far, its predecessor, Operation Tempura, has been somewhat lacking in that area to say the least.

But when these investigations are over and corrective actions perhaps taken, the problem will still not be solved. The root causes of administrative misconduct and even alleged corruption in the RCIPS will not have simply ‘gone away.’

And they all cannot be fixed by one guy from the UK, with due respect to new RCIPS Commissioner David Baines.

Mr. Baines has so far represented himself and his organisation quite well in all his public appearances that we know of. But if he is not given the support of department members, the supervisors in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, and the general public, he can only fail.

Demanding better policing as a community means putting our money where our mouth is.

If we want better cops, we must pay them more in salary so better quality and more experienced individuals will apply. Spend more, not less, on training in crucial areas such as scenes of crime investigations, criminal intelligence, firearms response, and community policing. Perhaps even convince some former Caymanian officers to rejoin the ranks.

Their community needs them now more than ever.

But if all we get is the normal blabber about ‘supporting the police’ followed by budget cuts and heaping abuse upon them for not doing the job, we get what we pay for. And probably what we deserve.

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