In a frank address to the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon, Police Commissioner David Baines said a group of 15 people were responsible for the majority of the recent gun crimes being committed in the Islands.
Mr. Baines said some of these individuals had previously been arrested and even charged in connection with shootings, but were let off either because of insufficient evidence or witnesses who were scared to come forward.
‘At the moment we have 15 individuals who are spoiling our outlook for the future,’ Mr. Baines told a group of about 100 Chamber members at the Grand Marriott Resort. ‘These 15 individuals are well-known to our officers. Regretfully, some of these individuals have walked free.’
Although he did not mention any specific names, Mr. Baines did make reference to the recent deadly shooting inside the Next Level nightclub. He also noted another individual had been featured in a recent police service press release seeking information that could lead to the apprehension of a firearms suspect.
The commissioner said some steps needed to be taken to reform not only how the Royal Cayman Islands Police handle criminal investigations, but in how the criminal justice system is administered.
Mr. Baines noted exploring the potential for more judge alone trials, as opposed to trial by jury, might be one option.
He said that some cases had come to court with ‘evidence in other jurisdictions that would have convicted people’ but ultimately failed because jurors here were intimidated.
‘When we have people in the judiciary who are fearful of retribution, how can we expect the public to come forward?’ he asked the Chamber audience.
However, Mr. Baines also bluntly acknowledged the failings of police investigations at certain crime scenes, which he admitted sometimes led to embarrassing newspaper headlines. Part of the problem he said was that officers had not received the proper training in law enforcement techniques.
‘We have not responded with the right skilled people at the right time,’ he said.
Once that training is in place, the commissioner said he would like to devolve responsibility during crime scene response to the actual officers on the ground.
‘Traditionally, it’s gone back to a hierarchy approach,’ Mr. Baines said. ‘I’m looking to lose some of the rigidity in the hierarchy.’
Mr. Baines said he also planned to bring in law enforcement experts from the UK to assist RCIPS officers in criminal investigation and interviewing techniques. One of those individuals, Steve Brougham, arrived in Cayman this week.
Read more in the Caymanian Compass Friday…