Police training funds ‘not managed effectively’

Brent Fuller

If the government and successive
police commissioners are disappointed in the level of local police officers’
training, they have only themselves to blame.

That is the essence of a statement
released Monday by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Association.

The statement took Police
Commissioner David Baines to task over some comments he reportedly made at a recent
public meeting in West Bay. It also revealed that members of the police
officers association believe some serious labour-management issues still exist
within the 360-person force. 

The Caymanian Compass has attempted
to contact Mr. Baines’ office several times but had received no response by
press time.

Police Association President,
Inspector Rudolph Gordon, said his group has repeatedly attempted to raise
concerns about training and development of local RCIPS officers with the police
command staff and successive commissioners.

“(The association) has concluded
that some of the major failings of the RCIPS with regards to training and
development in an effort to professionalise the service are as a result of the
allocated funds not being managed effectively,” a statement from the police
association, attributed to Mr. Gordon, read. 

Clarifying that statement further
on Tuesday, the police association noted its view that training budgets
provided to the RCIPS over the years were not used to addressed training
deficiencies of local officers.

“A majority of the officers have
never had any refresher courses to sharpen and upgrade their skills to meet the
current challenges of today,” the association members noted. “Instead, officers
are brought in to fill the required gaps for the now; this cycle is repeated
again and again. This has happened through successive commissioners. The funds
allocated for training in the past never materialized for their purpose.”

Mr. Gordon stated that the
association is committed to working with police management to strengthen the
“already strained” relationship between officers and senior managers. 

“But comments like the ones made by
the commissioner at this recent meeting (in West Bay) was left to one’s own
interpretation at the risk of further demoralising the already hard-working and
dedicated officers that serve these Islands,” the association press release
read. 

The comments Mr. Gordon referred to
were reportedly made by Police Commissioner David Baines during a 23 August
public meeting in West Bay. The commissioner’s statements at the meeting
indicated, among other things, that RCIPS officers needed to improve basic
literacy skills and that RCIPS had “failed the community”. The comments were
attributed to a local media organisation that reported on the meeting the day
after it occurred. 

Mr. Gordon said that many RCIPS
officers have various professional qualifications including law degrees,
business degrees, engineering and other professional backgrounds. Other
officers are using the University College of the Cayman Islands and Civil
Service College programmes to enhance their skills as well, Mr. Gordon
said. 

“The objective of the current
accelerated scheme is of significant importance in attracting and retaining
qualified Caymanians,” the police association release stated. “However, if not
managed properly, the laudable intentions will be placed at risk.”

The police association said it was
ironic that the commissioner would bring up the issues of officers’ failings and
lack of proper training.

“The office of the commissioner is
responsible for hiring in the first instance and, in the absence of proper
hiring practices, the training of these officers to equip them with the relevant
and requisite skills,” the association members noted.

The issues of officer morale and
training are not new within the RCIPS ranks, though it is rare for such
disputes to be aired in public. Members of the police association expressed
similar concerns about training just a few weeks ago in an article in the
Caymanian Compass’ sister publication, the Observer on Sunday.

“A lot of the time the commissioner
talks about bringing in specialist officers and we don’t feel like enough is
being done to make provision for the local officers,” Mr. Gordon told the
Observer. 

This issue of local promotion –
often called succession planning in Cayman – has been a bone of contention for
many local police officers for a long time.

The idea behind it in the Public
Service Management Law is that government agencies are expected to train
Caymanians for management level positions within any organisation. Mr. Gordon
said RCIPS has failed to do that in many cases, particularly in specialist
policing jobs. 

“First of all, we know of no
succession plan in that sense,” Mr. Gordon said. “(The commissioner says) we
are short of this skill and we have to bring in experts.  But what you don’t see is a programme to
address the shortfall on a more permanent basis.

“It’s always, ‘let’s bring in the
skills’, but not, ‘let’s bring up what you have to meet that skill’.”

Sergeant Betty Ebanks, another
officer of the police association, believes the lack of cogent succession plans
is one of the factors that led to the development of a younger, less experienced
police service in Cayman.

“The number of long-serving
officers, Caymanian or expatriate, is in the minor numbers,” Mrs. Ebanks said.
“Most of them have gone, retired, resigned…so we have a high turnover of young
officers.

“Those officers with more experience
tend to get discouraged and either return to their hometown or go into the
private sector. Then it leaves us with that same repeated turnover that we have
the junior officers and nobody to mentor them.” 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. What I don’t understand about the RCIP, why do they train someone to be a specialist in a certain sector of the Police Service, and then when they have mastered the specialty, transfer them to another section where they have to train and re-learn all over again?

    They should have a policy in place where an officer can transfer no more than 3 times unless promoted to a section or a position. How I see it, an officer will never be able to master the skills of his duties if he is always shifting from one venue to the next in the Service.

    If you dig a well, you stick to one well until you reach water!

    This all has to do with MANAGEMENT

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  2. Opps…

    Why am I seeing fresh Police Constables after 2 years in the force, move to a specialty section of the force?

    Is it favoritism? What is it?

    There should be a policy that all new serving Police officers in the RCIP must at least serve 4 years at the ground level before being transfered in a specialty unit

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