Governor backs Baines despite ‘lack of confidence’ motion

Governor Helen Kilpatrick in a statement Wednesday, said, “The RCIPS and its leadership have my support and confidence,” in response to an announcement by independent and opposition legislators that they intend to bring a legislative motion of “no confidence” in the governance of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The motion, filed Wednesday with the Legislative Assembly clerks office, was signed by eight assembly members.

The five independent and three opposition party members are seeking an immediate assembly meeting, suggesting the meeting could be held as early as next Wednesday, to debate the issue. A separate private members’ motion filed by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush seeking an independent review of the police response to a recent report of five missing boaters near 12 Mile Bank is proposed to be debated during the emergency meeting.

The resolution section of the motion states, in part: “The Legislative Assembly does declare a lack of confidence in the RCIPS and the governance of the RCIPS and ask[s] the governor to appoint an independent team to review the police methodology of administration and to identify a Caymanian to lead the RCIPS.”

In her response, Governor Kilpatrick said, “The Cayman Islands have seen a recent fall in crime and continues to be amongst the safest communities in the Caribbean. This is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of RCIPS officers and staff. The RCIPS needs and deserves the support of our community to do their vital work.

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“I accept that there have been failings and that these can happen in any frontline organisations with over 400 staff. This is not to excuse such failings, for example the totally unacceptable response to a recent burglary in the North Side. Incidents where the public does not get the service that they expect must be fully investigated, those responsible subject to disciplinary proceedings and procedures improved to ensure that it does not happen again.”

East End MLA Arden McLean, who will move the motion in the House, said this was not an attempt by lawmakers to target Mr. Baines.

Rather, Mr. McLean said it had a wider aim to address governance failures that legislators believe have led to systemic problems within the police service. These difficulties, lawmakers said, have led to residents’ frustration and fear, a lack of response to certain crimes, discrimination against Caymanians within the police force and failure to prosecute crimes successfully.

Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly must decide on when such a meeting would be held, but she cannot ignore the call for a special meeting if at least seven lawmakers sign the request.

In this case, the eight legislators signing include opposition MLAs McKeeva Bush, Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks and independents Mr. McLean, Ezzard Miller, Alva Suckoo, Winston Connolly and Anthony Eden.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said that while the opposition members were entitled to call for an emergency assembly meeting, they would have difficulty meeting requirements for a quorum with only eight members present, two shy of a legislative majority.

“This is just pure opposition politics,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “There’s no reason to hold an emergency meeting over this [topic].”

A regular Legislative Assembly meeting has been set for Monday, April 25 to take up several bills, including new amendments to the Companies Law and the Standards in Public Life Bill.

The Legislative Assembly has not met since November.

Mr. McLaughlin said government would be happy to entertain the two private members’ motions discussed at Wednesday’s press conference during the regular assembly meeting.

An RCIPS spokesperson declined to comment on the matter Wednesday.

Mr. McLean said that while a number of systemic and operational failures by police culminated in the motion’s filing, one issue in particular caused his ire, reported in the Cayman Compass last week.

“Last Thursday morning, when I woke up, I found the police station had been broken into for the third time in less than a year,” he said. “I was aggravated.”

McKeeva Bush, who has historically been reluctant to criticize police operations, was equally reluctant to back this move, Mr. McLean said.

“The leader of the opposition was not very excited about doing this,” Mr. McLean said. “He had concerns that, if we lose confidence in the police department and it’s not corrected, then the criminal element may think we are supporting them.”

Mr. Bush said, in this case, governance issues, including the existence of a National Security Council that “hardly meets” and a letter his colleague Bernie Bush recently sent to the governor complaining of numerous problems involving police operations, were too much to ignore.

“These are serious matters in the country,” he said. “We cannot keep the lid on this any longer. If the international press gets hold of it … it’s going to give our tourism industry a black eye.

“This thing at Alfresco’s [restaurant, referring to a Sunday robbery there] is not an ordinary robbery,” Mr. Bush said. “Twenty to 25 tourists, one of them is accosted and has to go to the hospital, meanwhile they rob the place … not even five minutes from the [West Bay] police station.”

Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo said he had “kept quiet” about concerns with the police as a member of the government bench. However, since his defection early this year, Mr. Suckoo said he has become more vocal about policing concerns. “We have some very good police officers in this country, but I think the leadership needs to be examined,” he said.

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  1. Ladies and Gentlemen as a strong generational Caymanian I must weigh in on the matter re CoP. I applaud the Governor’s stance to support the CoP Mr. David Baines and I encourage all politicians to exercise restraint. Being a community and faithful Church of God member for 55 years I have seen plenty in Cayman. Let us take our emotions out of it and in light of the recent tragedies let us try for Heaven’s sake to be impartial. The bulk of the crimes we see taking place and chaos erupting in the educational system is all part of a growing cancer in Cayman (call it the SPIDER). WE have lost our way. As a people we have lost sight of our community spirit which caused our industries to flourish and grow and welcomed the mass to these shores. Perhaps we grew too quickly (explains Mount Trashmore- but that pales to the SPIDER) and as a country we failed to manage change well. We have to look to the family at a personal and individual level to see what’s going on. Moms and dads working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet, out of control cost of living which places severe pressure on families, leveraging of extended family members like aunties and grandparents to help raise kids and in most cases nannies do the job. The young ones grow up in economically, socially and even spiritually starved environments and have little to no role models. Allot of them turn to gangs for support and accept the way of the streets.

    We have a case of 2 Caymans. Let’s face it. The haves and the have nots. Yes it exists in most countries but when you have 55,000 people rubbing shoulders that close you feel it much stronger.
    On the one hand, we have the rich lighter tone business oriented Caymanians – don’t need to call names but we all know who these powerful families are AND the mid to upper tier expats who have high disposable incomes according to global standards.
    On the other hand we have everyone else fighting for scraps and having to endure the bright lights of the stuff they just can’t afford, houses they can only look at and never given even an invitation to visit, fancy cars they will never drive, hotel rooms they can’t stay in- with their menial jobs and low standard of living. It’s within this context that our misguided youths are thrust and with low morals and few role models they succumb to vice- seek the easy way out to earn a quick dollar. Crime is rampant for lots of reasons but please please please put down the pitchforks and see and call the problem for what it is. We need to fix our broken society, TOGETHER and try to find ways to bridge the wealth disparity in Cayman and create opportunities for those most at risk and/or disadvantaged to come up in the world and break through their socio economic barrier. We need all levels coming together- church, community, private and public sector and call in international support if needs be!!!!!!!!!!!! But do it fast rather than waiting around for another consultant to describe how fat the cobwebs are. Nuts find the SPIDER.
    The police and its leader Mr. Baines are doing their best. It’s the system that we have so support it. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We have no time to make a new baby- takes 9 month LOL !!!!
    Support the CoP and the police force. Work with them. Having spoken to many dedicated police officers who do a fine job day in and day in for LOW pay, they have such a hard time making cases because witnesses are either not reliable or don’t cooperate lest they be branded as “snitches”. If we kill the metaphorical SPIDER and stop clearing the cob webs we can solve a number of our country’s ills- not just crime but education, employment, and finance to name a few. Yes, having more productive citizens and residents will generate more wealth. It’s proven.
    The leaders of the country should focus on doing their part to locate the SPIDER and fix the problem. Why have they not held an LA meeting since Nov of last year? In any other profession they would be fired on the spot, yet they moan and complain like kids and want to de-stabilize the current enforcement system by doing away with the CoP Mr. Baines. This is crazy and some have a personal axe to grind against Mr. Baines (no names need to be called) but for God’s sake leave it alone and again focus on that SPIDER.