Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines got a new four-year contract last week without the benefit of his job being advertised or Legislative Assembly members who serve on the National Security Council being told about it.
Governor Duncan Taylor announced the four-year contract renewal in a statement Thursday, saying he did consult with the two citizen members of the National Security Council prior to making his decision.
According to a spokesperson from the governor’s office: “As set out in the Constitution, the Police Law and the Public Service Management Law, the governor has exclusive discretion on the appointment or reappointment of the commissioner of police. In coming to his decision, the governor chose to consult Mr. [Dan] Scott and Ms [Brigitte] Kirkconnell-Shaughness who, as the two civil society representatives on the National Security Council, have responsibility for bringing the views of the community to the governor on issues such as this.
“The governor is satisfied with the commissioner’s performance and believes that Mr. Baines is the right person to build on the foundations, which he has laid.”
The two civilian members of the council released a joint statement about the reappointment, which will leave Mr. Baines as the commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service until at least mid-2017.
“As representatives of civil society, we support the renewal of Commissioner David Baines’ contract for another four years. The crime level that the Cayman Islands is experiencing is unacceptable, but we believe that the efforts of Commissioner Baines and the RCIPS have led to the successful prevention and prosecution of serious crime, though much work is still to be done,” Mr. Scott and Mrs. Kirkconnell-Shaughness said.
Health Minister Mark Scotland, who has served on the security council since its inception, attending 20 of the group’s 24 meetings between 2010 and 2012, said the first he learned of Mr. Baines’ contract renewal was through the media on Thursday night.
Asked Friday if he was still on the security council, Mr. Scotland remarked: “After what I saw [Thursday] night, I need to re-check.
“I can’t say, constitutionally, that I should have been consulted, but I think, just as a courtesy as a member of the National Security Council I would have been,” he said.
Mr. Scotland indicated that his other colleagues in Cabinet were not consulted on the decision, though Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly had not responded to requests for comment about the matter by press time.
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin was also not consulted on the decision, though he was uncertain of his position on the security council given the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly in March.
Mr. McLaughlin served as a member of the National Security Council during 2011 and 2012 and said he had no view either way as to whether Mr. Baines should have been reappointed. However, he generally questioned whether the governor should retain sole power to choose such critically important public employees such as police commissioner.
Mr. McLaughlin’s People’s Progressive Movement government in 2008 proposed changes to the Constitution that would have introduced a “Police Authority” – an appointed body granted the powers to select senior police service officers, including the commissioner. The proposal was not included in the 2009 Constitution Order because of a lack of consensus, he said.
“It’s inappropriate for such major matters as the appointment of the commissioner of police to be handled by the governor alone,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
Minister Scotland said he did have some concerns about Mr. Baines’ performance.
“The jury’s still out on the [commissioner], you know,” Mr. Scotland said. “The greatest area where we haven’t seen improvement is within the police service itself.” Mr. Scotland’s statements referred to a number of recent cases where police officers have brought legal proceedings against the department over various disciplinary issues or dismissals from the police service.
Some of the recent cases include:
A police constable sued Mr. Baines and an RCIPS chief inspector claiming he was assaulted twice on duty by the chief inspector.
A police inspector who was demoted, then reinstated has now filed a complaint with the governor against Mr. Baines and Deputy RCIPS Commissioner Steve Brougham.
A request for judicial review has been filed by a veteran police officer who was terminated following a disciplinary hearing. He appealed the matter, won his job back and was then retired by Commissioner Baines.
The head of the police association was placed under investigation by the department after he spoke to the Caymanian Compass about lie detector tests that were given to more than 40 serving police officers. He was eventually cleared and the department claimed the investigation had nothing to do with the inspector speaking with the press.
There have been repeated complaints from police and some legislators that the RCIPS internal disciplinary process is unfair.