Police commander back at work

‘Living nightmare’over

An exonerated cop who was removed from his post for 17 months on required leave will return to work today, cleared of all accusations.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Chief Superintendent John Jones has been fully reinstated by Police Commissioner David Baines following his temporary removal from that position on 27 March, 2008. Mr. Jones was one of three police commanders removed on that day in connection with a misconduct investigation into the RCIPS.

‘I’d like to thank all my supporters during what’s best described as a living nightmare over the last 17 months,’ Mr. Jones said Friday.

The fourth-highest ranking member of the RCIPS was notified he had been placed under a criminal investigation on 15 May, 2008 in connection with his alleged role in an unauthorised entry into a local newspaper publisher’s office in September 2007.

Nearly a year later, Mr. Jones was cleared in that investigation. He was never arrested or charged with any crimes.

The Caymanian Compass reported in May 2009 that the 30-year veteran officer’s contract had been renewed. However, he was unable to immediately return to work because internal disciplinary proceedings in connection with the on-going investigation had not been resolved.

Commissioner Baines stated that no such hearing was ever convened because it would have been ‘disproportionate in light of the alleged breach of conduct.’

‘Chief Superintendent Jones demonstrated great dignity during the most trying times, serving as a reminder to all that judgments as to innocence or guilt should be made once all facts have been thoroughly investigated,’ Mr. Baines said.

Mr. Jones said his current contract at RCIPS will expire in May 2010 and indicated that he hopes to continue serving with the police department ‘as long as they want me.’

‘There’s a job that needs to be done,’ he said. ‘I have a role to play in that and I don’t think we can do that in nine months.’

The police superintendent’s return to work comes on the day the criminal trial of former Cayman Islands MLA Lyndon Martin is due to start. According to court documents it was Mr. Martin’s statements to police in 2007 that led to the investigation and subsequent entry into Cayman Net News Publisher Desmond Seales’ office on 3 September, 2007.

Mr. Jones is scheduled to be a witness in the trial, and said that he believed the date of his return was merely a coincidence.

News of Superintendent Jones’ return, which has been rumoured within the RCIPS since early May, has gotten a mixed reaction from the rank-and-file.

Some local police association members had privately expressed concerns about Mr. Jones being given a new contract and, at one point, had scheduled a press conference to speak about it. That conference never happened.

Association members also met with former Acting Police Commissioner James Smith about Mr. Jones’ reinstatement. Mr. Smith declined to comment about the meeting.

Mr. Jones said he believes has and can continue to earn the respect of his fellow officers.

‘I’d be foolish to think there wouldn’t be some resentment in some quarters,’ he said. ‘But I want to move past that.’

Mr. Baines has previously urged all RCIPS officers to put aside personal differences and work together, adding that he was concerned about factions that had begun to appear within the police service.

‘It’s essential that we put our communities first and if there’s any infighting within the organisation, it’s a secondary issue,’ Mr. Baines said in June.