Cop booted after 26 years

Seeks court to review the case

A Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer with 26 years of service is asking a court to review his May 2011 “retirement” from the department.  

Apparently, according to the court filing made last week, the veteran officer – Osbert Whitfield Smith – didn’t know too much about that “retirement” until it took place.  

“[Police Commissioner David Baines] erred in law … when he purportedly notified the applicant on 2 May, 2011, before his mandatory retirement age and without giving [Mr. Smith] the opportunity to comment or without giving reasons for his decision, that he had retired [Mr. Smith],” according to the application for judicial review filed on 10 April.  

According to section 21(4)(a) and (c) of the Police Law [2010 Revision], the police commissioner may retire any police officer if he or she determines it to be in the public interest and the retirement is expected to improve the efficiency of the police service.  

However, failing to give reasons for the retirement of Officer Smith is against the principles of natural justice and fairness as well as outside the Cayman Islands Constitution Order, the judicial review application claims.  

The judicial review application seeks to quash the commissioner’s decision and to seek reinstatement with the award of any back pay and back due pension monies owed to Officer Smith.  

The Caymanian Compass contacted the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for comment on this story and received the following: “As the matter is subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment.”  

The newspaper has learned that Mr. Smith was earlier dismissed from his post following an internal disciplinary process, but later reinstated to his job on appeal. His “retirement” came after that reinstatement.  

Mr. Smith’s attorney, Charles Clifford, also declined to comment about the case, which is still to go before a judge who will consider whether to grant a full judicial review hearing. 

“[The police commissioner’s] decision to retire [Officer Smith] … was a decision that no reasonable authority could ever come to,” the application for judicial review states, noting that it would have been more difficult to challenge the commissioner’s decision “had [Mr. Smith] been a mediocre type of police officer”.  

“[Mr. Smith] could not in any way be described as mediocre, in fact, exceptional would seem to be a suitable description,” the application continues. “[Mr. Smith] received various commendations over the years for the exceptional contribution he provided to the service. In one such commendation written to [Mr. Smith], the deputy commissioner [of police] opines ‘you are a fine example of what RCIP represents and expects of its members’.” 

The judicial review application lists other achievements during Mr. Smith’s 26 years of service.  

Mr. Smith’s employment contract was renewed biennially 13 times since he started at the RCIPS in September 1983. This series of contract renewals “also serves as an objective acknowledgement of the satisfaction of the standard of service [Mr. Smith] provided to the RCIPS”.  

“[Mr. Smith] had a legitimate expectation that his contract would be renewed in September 2011. There is no evidence whatsoever which suggests [Mr. Smith] in any way lowered the high professional standard which he has held himself to since he commenced his tenure of service with the RCIPS.” 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Commissioner of the RCIP you are heading straight for a desk job filing papers, just like Vic Mackey on THE SHIELD series. I would suggest that an undercover cop need to investigate the higher ranks. ASAP.

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  2. Maladministration exist within the RCIPS, and recent calls by GT MLA Ellio Solomon to have it investigated are well placed.

    Hopefully the Deputy Governor, who accepted the Motion, will act swiftly to ensure that it is addressed sooner, rather than later.

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  3. The Government is going to pay dearly because of actions of the Police Commissioner and his top rank officers. So you guys did not think that human rights would affect you? Government will continue to pay and this will be ultimately from the pockets of the people of the Cayman islands as long as the problems in this organization are ignored.Many other potential actions remain because victims are either unwilling or unable to take legal action against the RCIPS for one reason or another.

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  4. Hunter, you make a couple of very valid points there but just consider two things.

    Commissioner Baines contract runs out on 31 May. I have not seen the job being advertised anywhere so we can safely assume that he will be renewed for at least another two years.

    And remember the last undercover investigation into the RCIPS in 2007? Where are we at on that now? Over CI20million down so far and two court cases still not settled.

    What RCIPS needs is a full public, judicial inquiry into its conduct going back to 27 March 2008 when Stuart Kernohan was suspended for simply doing his job because that is when all the current problems began.

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  5. Uncledave..Stuart Kernohan was no choirboy either..all you have to do is Google his name and see what shenanigans he was involved in in the UK before his employment in the RCIPS. This problem of marginalizing local officer started WITH him not after him..the only way the RCIPS is going to get it’s act together is when the public oversight body that is legislated to do that role is formed and the members enforce transparency upon it..

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  6. Rorschach, I think you are simply dragging up the old, and rather malicious, love rat story that Net News hyped out of all context in 2006 to try and get Kernohan sacked simply because certain politicians had problems with his no-nonsense attitude.

    As far as I know Kernohan’s record as a police officer in the UK was spotless and my dealings with him in RCIPS in no way reflect your allegations. If you know otherwise post the details here, please do not make vague allegations against an honest CoP unless you can back them up.

    In fact the reality is quite the opposite to what you claim because at the time of his suspension Kernohan had (despite interference from at least one senior officer) turned around the fragmented, dysfunctional RCIPS that emerged after Hurricane Ivan and re-established it as a viable police force.

    The problems we now see started after he was suspended and increased after he was sacked. Look at the reports in this publication about the mass exodus of police officers and civilian staff in 2009/10 – they speak for themselves.

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