Cop’s demotion will cost police service

One of two review cases filed

The second of two judicial review cases filed against the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service by its own officers last year will end up costing the department some cash.  

A police service inspector who was demoted to the rank of police constable last year has been reinstated, along with all back due pension and salary emoluments from mid-September. H. Phillip Ebanks, the attorney who represented Inspector Richard Harford in the judicial review proceeding filed last year, said that his client and the department came to an agreed settlement just before the judicial review proceeding was set to begin on 26 March.  

Mr. Ebanks said Mr. Harford was fully reinstated based on a decision from Thursday. E-mails to the police service seeking comment on the matter were not returned. According to Mr. Ebanks, the agreement means the earlier decision to demote Harford had been “quashed”, his reinstatement has been approved, and all benefits due to him during the period between 18 September and 8 March would be paid along with attorneys’ costs. “It was an order arrived at by mutual consent of the parties,” Mr. Ebanks said. “He will receive all his pension benefits and back pay … the motion took place as if all this had never happened.”  

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Officers Association released the following statement on Mr. Harford’s matter Saturday: “The police association supported the officer and is pleased that the matter has been resolved and he will be back to work soon.  

“From the beginning, we had concerns as to [the department’s] conduct and where the deputy commissioner got the powers to render such a verdict. We were also disappointed that the commissioner of police failed to act in preventing further emotional injury and financial cost to the officer, financial cost to the association and the taxpayers of the Cayman Islands,” the statement continued.  

“The conduct of this incident is another good example of the challenges faced by the officers and demonstrates how complex and costly seeking recourse can be without an adequate appeal process. This case also demonstrates why some internal investigations need to be dealt with by an independent outside body.” The initial decision to demote Inspector Harford came after a disciplinary hearing, according to court records reviewed by the Caymanian Compass.  

Mr. Harford was accused of violating two sections of the police regulations regarding conduct for officers in relation to an incident where a police service special constable was prevented from leaving the Cayman Islands.  

According to the police Professional Standards Unit disciplinary charge: “[Mr. Harford] caused a stop notice to be placed on the immigration file of Mr. Altemond Rowe, a member of the special constabulary, at the Owen Roberts International Airport without there being a criminal investigation being carried out against the said Mr. Rowe.” In addition, Mr. Harford allegedly represented that a police sergeant was investigating an offence committed by Mr. Rowe “knowing that such 
representation [was] false”.  

According to court records, Mr. Harford denied both the charges, but was demoted as a result of the disciplinary action taken against him by the department. In seeking a judicial review of the matter, Mr. Harford claimed that there was either no evidence or insufficient evidence to support the demotion ordered by Deputy Commissioner Steve Brougham.  

“The … decision of Deputy Commissioner Brougham is irrational, unlawful and ultra vires (Latin term meaning ‘outside the law’),” the judicial review application claimed.  

The judicial review document also stated that an “unlawful” decision was made by Police Commissioner David Baines to refuse to hear an application to review Mr. Brougham’s decision.  

 

Another review 

According to a 5 September, 2012, judicial review filing, an attorney acting on behalf of Constable Cardiff Robinson sought access to a prosecutor’s case file and ruling from July where the director of public prosecutions “chose not to pursue a criminal charge of assault by a senior police officer against [Mr. Robinson] and gave her reasons for doing so”.  

The application seeking leave for judicial review by the Grand Court requested the immediate disclosure of the case records.  

“[Mr. Robinson] is currently considering bringing civil proceedings against the police commissioner and requires access to the ruling and the criminal file, especially witness statements known to be contained in the said file,” according to the judicial review application.  

The police constable’s judicial review request states that on 15 February, 2012, he filed an incident report with the police service “which complained of an alleged assault against [Mr. Robinson] by a senior police officer, [Chief Inspector] Frank Owens in charge of George Town district policing”.  

Speaking before the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee in early 2012, Commissioner Baines referenced the incident. “Certainly, from the nature of it, no assault has taken place, even though there is somebody suggesting it has taken place and yet it has hit the media,” Mr. Baines said.  

“On or about 30 July, 2012, the director of public prosecutions advised that a criminal charge of assault was made out against [Mr.] Owens, but a decision had also been made not to proceed with a charge against him on the grounds of public interest immunity,” the judicial review application stated.  

Mr. Baines’ comments to the LA were made prior to the file being forwarded to the director of public prosecutions for legal advice on 26 March.  

The file prepared by the prosecutor’s office was not turned over to Mr. Robinson or his attorney, the judicial review application claimed. 

8 COMMENTS

  1. This sort of behavior has been going on in the police force for many many years was tolerated because of no one to proper investigate. It is just that
    a now -a -days things are different. There are persons who watch what go on in the police force and hope that the right thing is done, however; there is still too much happening in the force that is seen as being unfairness and corruption by the outside world. Police Officers back then lived much better with each other. There were Caymanians, Barbadians, Belizeians, Jamaicans with one or two English men in charge. Today we have police in the force from every corner of the world, and they are not getting along. The question remains why not? Simple. The Cayman police should feel he has to protect his ground, because it is his home. The foreign police behave differently. Most think about the good salary and behave as though they are only here for the white sand, to do a job and get out whether it is good or bad. Thats Not good enough. It breaks down the true meaning of Law an Order. So unless the officers are carefully selected and who have a different view about policing the force will be no better.

  2. Good policing ? Friendly policing ? My husband once told a policeman, from Bodden Town, that he noticed several cars did not up to date discs on thier windshields. (This was in a shopping area along seven mile beach) The officer’s reply was ‘ They might have had a lot of expense that week, he thought, and would probably get them another time ‘. This officer was English…. from Liverpool. Looking out for the locals…or what ?

  3. Does the RCIPS have an HR Department that can and should advise what is legal and not legal in employee disciplinary proceedings? We are just killing this Cayman cash cow!

  4. Congratulations to Inspector Harford.

    He is a well learned and respected officer, even by his colleagues.

    It is obvious that certain of his seniors wanted him demoted and/or dismissed. There is alot of favoritism in the Police Service.

  5. There will be more of that kind of suit. Originally some section of the public never seems to see the good side of the work done by police offices (especially locals) .It was easier to see the faults of a few erring officers. But let it be known that police officers have rights just like other members of the community. When their rights are trampled under feet the law is there for them too including the human rights the contents. They are somebody’s child too. Many abuses went on in the past and were hushed up for fear of Discipline procedures. Now officers are throwing caution to the wind and fighting back. For the poster on this site who is bewailing the fact that this is another money cost on the tax payers and government of the islands, you should be reminded that people’s right cannot be abused and for economic reasons they cannot be compensated for the wrong. If this were you sir, or your son, would you refrain from asserting your right because it might contribute to the depletion of the Government coffers? Only you knows the answer to this question.If wrongs are multiplied then it is right for actions to be taken to remedy those wrongs in a democratic society.

  6. The RCIPS needs to be investigated for Maladministration.

    They spend too much time pursuing the FCO agenda locally, and not enough time taking care of what they should be.

  7. The RCIPS need to clean up house starting right at the top with Baines…

    We not come here by plane though, we come by pain and whether you like it or not you will have to go home one day!

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