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.
“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.