A number of instances where discipline and promotions have been handed out to local police officers are being questioned by George Town Member of the Legislative Assembly Ellio Solomon.
Last week, the Caymanian Compass reported Mr. Solomon’s proposal to have the Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner’s office look into some of these instances, including cases of citizen complaints brought against officers by the public.
Some of the alleged incidents referenced by Mr. Solomon last week that were not immediately reported in the newspaper because they could not be immediately verified.
However, over the weekend, representatives of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers’ association confirmed that some of the incidents had indeed occurred and that officers’ concerns in the matters “were not without merit”.
“We do have serious concerns about how matters are being dealt with internally,” a spokesperson for the police association, which represents all RCIPS officers, said Saturday. “These are just examples of some of the things we’re dealing with internally.”
Mr. Solomon said the instances of what he termed “maladministration” needed serious review and said he had filed a private members motion in the Legislative Assembly seeking to make the complaints commissioner’s office responsible for hearing various police-related gripes. Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams had not commented on the proposal by press time Sunday.
“In one recent allegation, an officer was dismissed from the RCIPS by the commissioner, appealed to the governor and was reinstated,” Mr. Solomon wrote to the Caymanian Compass. ”We understand the commissioner then requested two weeks to find a place for the reinstated officer, but proceeded within that two weeks to retire the officer.
“Is the allegation true? At present, we and the country have no way of knowing,” Mr. Solomon said.
Without commenting on the specifics of the case, the police association confirmed that Mr. Solomon’s statements matched its understanding of the matter as well.
The RCIPS routinely does not comment upon disciplinary action taken against its officers. Attempts to solicit comments in this case were not met with a response by press time.
“Another recent allegation of seemingly unfair discipline practice is that where an officer was reduced in rank from inspector to constable … not even sergeant!,” Mr. Solomon wrote to the Compass.
According to the police association, the issue with the second case is that the demotion had been decided by a deputy commissioner at the RCIPS, not the commissioner himself. According to section 99 of the Police Law: “The commissioner shall have the power to impose any one or more of the following punishments [against officers] – a) reprimand, b) severe reprimand, c) a fine not exceeding ten days pay, d) reduction in rank or seniority, e) discharge, that is immediate termination of service and of membership of the service.”
The commissioner is defined under the law as the “commissioner of police appointed under this law”.
In the case of this demotion, the police service stated the following to the local news media: “The officer in question was the subject of two disciplinary hearings. He was found not guilty in one of the offences in one matter and guilty in the other matter.”
A third case involving the alleged assault of a junior officer by a senior police officer is now the subject of an internal review application before the Cayman Islands Grand Court.
Long a sore subject with local police officers, Mr. Solomon also addressed the issue of promotion of Caymanian police within the police service.
“We hear of instances where senior positions are filled without giving qualified and experienced Caymanian officers a fair opportunity,” he said.
Mr. Solomon said the issue had been addressed in a 30 August, 2010 article published by the Caymanian Compass titled “Police training funds not managed effectively”.
In that story, Police Association President and RCIPS Inspector Rudolph Gordon said his group has repeatedly attempted to raise concerns about training and development of local police officers with 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, the police association noted its view that training budgets provided to the police service over the years were not used to address 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 materialised for their purpose.”