Judging from his body language at
the press conference called last week to discuss the shooting death of
four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, Governor Duncan Taylor was nervous.
Although no one could blame the new
governor for the current crime spree, his predecessor is not blameless.
After Hurricane Ivan in September
2004, a multitude of problems inside the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service resulted
in a big increase in crime.
Toward the end of 2005, a new
police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, arrived with a promise to clean up crime.
He delivered on that promise.
In November 2006, a caycompass.com online
poll showed that only 7.5 per cent of respondents thought crime was the biggest
concern facing the country, a major reversal of opinion from a year earlier.
Crime remained in check until Mr.
Kernohan – and two other top RCIPS officers – were put on required leave in
March 2008 by former Governor Stuart Jack as part of the Operation Tempura
Since then we’ve seen a revolving
door of police commissioners, the departure of senior officers and, not
surprisingly, a large increase in crime.
Although factors like the bad economy play a part in the rising crime,
the dubious decisions by Mr. Jack with relation to Operation Tempura have
helped make the RCIPS less effective, less trusted by the public and elected
government, and less feared by criminals.
The appointment of Police
Commissioner David Baines has finally stabilised the top of the RCIPS command
structure. Governor Taylor must now smooth over the damaged relationship
between the UK and Cayman Government.
Governor Jack often approached the
public and elected Cayman Government with a dismissive, almost condescending
mien. He acted as if only he knew best how to lead the internal security of
these Islands. If we learned anything
from the past two years, it’s that Cayman’s internal security must be a
cooperative effort between the UK and the Cayman Islands.
There are provisions in the new Constitution
that give structure to such cooperation; we sincerely hope Governor Taylor
realises the future of these Islands depend on the effective implementation of
a true partnership in internal security.
Judging by his nervousness,
we think he does.