Several contracts that were about to be issued by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to officers transferring from Jamaica have been put on hold following the murder conviction last month of Tyrone Findlay.
Findlay, who came to Cayman in 2011 with glowing references from superior officers and a judge in Jamaica, was charged with murder two months later.
Police Commissioner David Baines said the senior law enforcement officials who gave references for Findlay appear to have been genuinely unaware of the investigation, which he suggested was being carried out in secret by another unit – the Bureau of Special Investigations.
Findlay, like many senior officers, was hired on a three-year contract without any probationary period, Mr. Baines said. He remained on the police payroll until his conviction, returning to duty briefly this year as he awaited trial.
Mr. Baines said the RCIPS has now put contract offers to Jamaican officers on hold until police establish which of that country’s many investigating bodies should be consulted during the recruitment process. “The immediate result in this case is that a number of contracts that were to be issued to applicants from Jamaica have been withheld pending a determination of how and who is best placed to satisfy vetting requirements in a country with a myriad of investigatory agencies,” Mr. Baines told the Cayman Compass.
He said he had no qualms in general about hiring armed officers from Jamaica, including officers who had been involved in line of duty shootings, which he said are inevitable in a country with such serious violent crime.
“The RCIPS has some outstanding officers who originate from Jamaica, and my position will be one of dealing with each on the information provided and not driven by discriminatory comments and, in some quarters, straight forward xenophobia,” he added.
He said reference checks for all police officers traditionally went through the relevant police headquarters in the country concerned. An additional check through the Jamaican anti-corruption unit was added for officers from that country several years ago.
“Where they have indicated that officer has been subject of concern, proven or unproven, we have removed them from the selection process. “The ACU [anti-corruption unit] indicated that in Findlay’s case he was not subject of any reporting and they would have been unsighted as the investigation was taken by the Bureau of Special investigations.”
As well as the Bureau of Special Investigations and the force anti-corruption unit, a relatively new organization known as INDECOM has been set up to investigate police shootings. Mr. Baines said he was seeking to establish which combination of organizations would need to be consulted before authorizing new hires from Jamaica. But he said the police would continue to recruit from that country and would not shy away from hiring officers with shootings on their record if the use of force was proven to be justified.
“Regrettably, the Jamaican community has suffered over 900 murders in the past year alone. It would be expected that armed law enforcement would find themselves using their weapons in such violent circumstances,” he said.
“Indeed, until recently the Jamaica Constabulary Force had an average of 15 officers per annum murdered in the line of duty. I say that not to justify, but to demonstrate the police-related shootings alone cannot be used to judge appropriateness or otherwise of police selection procedures.”
Findlay was convicted in November of killing 27-year-old Anthony Richards on the beach at Alligator Pond, in the Manchester district of Jamaica, on New Year’s Day, 2010. Findlay and fellow detective Leonard Lindsay maintained they shot Richards and restaurant worker Roshaine Dixon, who they said were armed with a knife and a gun, in self defense while investigating reports of a robbery. The prosecution, based on testimony from Dixon, who was injured in the shooting, said the plainclothes detectives shot the two unarmed men and then planted the weapons.
A jury unanimously found both police officers guilty of murder.