Bringing fairness to the Baines brouhaha

We know a cooked — no, actually a raw — deal when we see it. And Police Commissioner David Baines is on the receiving end of one right now.

We refer to the public calls — in the Legislative Assembly, on the radio, and on the Internet — for Mr. Baines’s dismissal or resignation, centering on the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s 2011 hiring of Jamaican police officer Tyrone Findlay, who on Nov. 19 of this year was convicted of murder in Jamaica for a line-of-duty shooting that occurred Jan. 1, 2010.

Currently, this Editorial Board doesn’t know enough about what occurred — in Jamaica, during the vetting process of Findlay when he was hired, or in Cayman after the murder investigation became known — to comment on what ramifications, if any, the situation should have on Mr. Baines’s employment contract, which runs through May 2017.

At this point, we imagine few people do know enough to comment constructively.
That group does not include West Bay MLA Bernie Bush, the member of the opposition who grandstandingly threatened to move an inconsequential motion (legally speaking) of “no confidence” against Mr. Baines in the Legislative Assembly.

Neither does it include talk radio hosts or anonymous “online bloggers” (to borrow a phrase from Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush) whose vituperative screeds regularly cast palls of ignorance and shame upon the public face of this country.

Our intent, in this editorial, is neither to defend nor to denigrate Mr. Baines. Rather, it is to observe that, right now, we are hearing all the wrong things about the commissioner, from all the wrong people.

There are very good reasons, frankly, why elected members such as Mr. Bernie Bush do not have authority over Cayman’s police commissioner.

Premier Alden McLaughlin (echoed by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush) correctly put the issue in context:

“The commissioner is appointed by the governor and does not fall under the remit of the elected government. … I ask all members of this House to exercise patience to enable me to discuss this matter with Her Excellency the Governor and to give her the opportunity to address the concerns raised.”

If anyone should be speaking to or about Mr. Baines at this point, it should be Governor Helen Kilpatrick. Unfortunately — and unfairly to Mr. Baines — hers is one of the few voices that has gone silent. She has been traveling for most of the last two weeks, but she certainly has not been incommunicado on other matters.

For reasons political and personal, as well as professional, Mr. Baines has become a lightning rod for criticism over the never-ending list of Cayman’s societal ills. Such scapegoating is unfair to Mr. Baines and detrimental to the country, whose problems should be addressed rather than masked.

“I will accept the blame when policing failures are to blame. I will not take the blame for social failings, parental failings or educational failings, nor do I accept the failure to rehabilitate offenders. They are not my remit. Yet it is convenient for some, to seek to place that blame on the police and me. I have no intention of accepting others’ failings as my own,” Mr. Baines said.

That sounds fair to us. Eminently so.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr Editor, Neither does the people of Cayman truthfully know what occurred in the process of Findlay being hired. I however believe what has the people most angered in this Brouhaha is that they want a clear explanation as to why, how, and what circumstances would cause Commissioner Baines to Hire a Police officer under suspicion of murder in his country. Let us take a different view of it: If a Caymanian had applied for this position and he was under investigation for such an offence do you feel a proper investigation would have been carried out, and do you feel he would have been hired by the commissioners and his deputies while that was ongoing?.
    Further more; I cannot be convinced that Mr Baines acted on this alone. He is an Englishman who I do not feel is quite familiar with the seasoned peppers of the Caribbean. I feel that there were more than one hand in this pot to hire this police officer.
    We cannot tell the Governor what to do, however we are expecting that a thorough investigation be done and a fair decision be made.

  2. to think that almost a year ago the man was being lauded as a hero for his quickness of thought and action when he captured a crook on his day off (the Police Chief’s day off – crime never takes a holiday)! To be clear, the processes for hiring Mr. Findlay were followed to the letter of the law.. literally! If anyone is to blame for not flagging a possible poisoned apple it would lay with the Jamaican Police Commissioner with Mr. Findlay for not disclosing the matter Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone and all that eh?

  3. We know a cooked no, actually a raw deal when we see it. And Police Commissioner David Baines is on the receiving end of one right now…

    …Currently, this Editorial Board doesn’t know enough about what occurred…

    How often does the Editorial board jump to wild conclusions without knowing enough?

  4. When a person is in the process of being hired as a police officer background checks are made. This includes a criminal conviction check and references taken up from the former employer. This is particularly important where the candidate is a serving officer in another jurisdiction.
    Did the Jamaican police notify the RCIPS of the ongoing investigation? If yes, Findlay simply would NOT have been hired.
    Start asking awkward questions about the Jamaican authorities and, in the meantime suspend ALL recruitment from Jamaica.

  5. making an (inccorect) assumption that the RCIPS knew Findlay was under suspicion when they recruited him – which sounds ridiculous – your comment is therefore irrelavant

    why do those who comment typically boil everythingdown to a Caymanian v’s expat thing – ridiculous

  6. John Ashley, dito. Jamaica’s just seem to have some very unorthodox management processes, and our close links and neighbourly ties is sometime to our detriment. They need to clean up their act in so many ways. Even our favoured status with the US immigrations has been effected. The very nature of the fault that have give rise to these discussions, murder of a citizen by a peace officer speaks to the deep management problems with our neighbour.

    Now if the Commissioner of police or any other authority in Jamaica notified Mr Baines of the pending charges or even the ongoing investigations, that is a different matter. I will add though, that clearly one thing works well in Jamaica, and that is keeping its secrets within the special investigative branch.

  7. Loscher, answer me this question, how do you know that I am incorrect? How do you know that they never knew Findlay was under suspicion? You seem to know a lot. Please answer that question instead of trying to be a know-it-all as to my comments being irrelevant. Buy a kite and use it.

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