Evidence containing a bevy of misconduct allegations made against local police officers over the last two years is now in the full possession of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Police Commissioner David Baines said Tuesday that those claims, previously described under the general heading of Operation Cealt, are being kept under lock and key in a secure location.
‘The evidence is securely stored,’ Mr. Baines said. ‘It is not widely accessible to any other person in the RCIPS without my precise authority. It is controlled as to who has access to that information.’
Mr. Baines acknowledged that those in the community who brought complaints to the original UK Metropolitan Police investigating team may initially have had concerns about RCIPS handling those investigations. However, he said those concerns will be addressed by bringing in a number of experienced police detectives from foreign jurisdictions to handle the cases.
Those officers will be a part of the local police service, Mr. Baines stressed. However, they may be assigned to a special unit within the service ‘to avoid any suggestion that potentially corrupt officers are now being allowed to come into that investigation’.
New legislative requirements will create an anti-corruption unit within the RCIPS, and Mr. Baines said it was likely some of the new officers will be brought in to staff that unit. He said he’s looking for roughly 10experienced investigators, and three scenes of crime officers – civilians who handle evidence processing.
‘What I’m looking to do is to hire additional investigators, not from this jurisdiction, to come into the organisation, to pick up those specific enquiries and to run them to their conclusion,’ Mr. Baines said.
The hires are being made to fill staffing shortages within the police service. There are roughly 50 vacant positions at present, Mr. Baines said.
Not all of those will be filled by foreign officers. In fact, two recent police cadet classes are expected to help fill many of the rank-and-file vacancies. However, for the detective positions, the commissioner said he is looking at individuals with at least ten years previous experience.
Mr. Baines said some of those skilled veteran investigators will be handling complaints made against the RCIPS officers under the heading of Operation Cealt. In a rare move, Mr. Baines said investigators assigned to look into the officer misconduct claims will be given polygraph (lie detector) tests by US law enforcement agencies prior to being hired.
‘Because there is the shadow of corruption on us, we’ve got to go the extra mile to make sure that where we have those (investigators)…they are, to the best of our knowledge and vetting capability, clean,’ Mr. Baines said.
‘I’m aware there are concerns that…corruption has taken place or has been tolerated previously,’ the commissioner continued. ‘That’s no part of any police force that I’m going to have a part of.’
Mr. Baines said RCIPS is also keen to work with US law enforcement agencies to set up an absolutely trustworthy unit that can be contacted to deal with criminal intelligence matters from a regional standpoint.
The commissioner couldn’t say how long Operation Cealt investigations would take to complete. But he was hopeful to get new staff hired as swiftly as possible.
‘This is not something that is healthy to leave swinging in the air,’ he said.
Operation Tempura almost done
Mr. Baines confirmed Tuesday that all criminal investigative aspects of the probe known as Operation Tempura had drawn to a close. All remaining UK Met officers in Cayman left last month.
However, there are still two loose ends to tie up. Mr. Baines said two representatives from the BGP Training and Consultancy group out of the UK have remained in Cayman to deal with those matters.
BGP was hired last year to assist UK Met officers in gathering and processing large volumes of evidence collected from various civilian complaints against police.
The first is a disciplinary proceeding involving suspended Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon. Mr. Dixon was cleared of criminal misconduct charges in a trial earlier this year, but still must answer any internal disciplinary issues that could arise out of the criminal probe.
The second involves disclosure requirements for two lawsuits brought against the Cayman Islands government by two former RCIPS officers who were named as potential suspects in the previous criminal investigations. Writs were filed earlier this year by former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and retired police Inspector Burmon Scott.