EDITORIAL – Police and crime: ‘Lack of confidence’ – in lawmakers

“Lack of confidence” motions are serious parliamentary business. However, the particular motion being brought by independent and opposition lawmakers against Police Commissioner David Baines is not.

The evidence is in the language: “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.”

The final nine words demarcate where our credulity — and legislators’ credibility — ends.

Premier Alden McLaughlin is savvy and seasoned enough to recognize populist bluster when he sees it on display: “This is just pure opposition politics,” he said. “There’s no reason to hold an emergency meeting over this [topic].”

As we’ve written before, recent high-profile crimes, especially those targeted at tourism areas, are cause for alarm — because those types of occurrences, in aggregation, are potential economy killers. The Cayman Islands simply cannot afford to lose its well-earned reputation as a safe and friendly haven for visitors and residents.

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As for the state of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, our officers are primarily responsible for solving crimes after they have been committed, not for preventing crimes from happening.

Certainly, the knowledge of police presence and of the existence of a well-functioning criminal justice system do have a “deterrent effect” on would-be malefactors, but the police are only one of three pillars of law enforcement — the other two being the prosecutors (and their equally important counterparts, the defense) and the judiciary. Our court system is plagued with issues and inefficiencies that have little to do with the police — who, by the way, have even less to do with the actual root cause of criminal conduct, that is, complex and fundamental social factors.

Accordingly, the only fair way to judge police is by their reaction to crime, not by the incidence of crime. Using that metric, there are certainly areas where our police have fallen short — most notably, when an officer neglected to assist a North Side homeowner whose home had been invaded by two burglars; and the thefts of drugs and motorbikes from the George Town police station. (At least one person is in custody in connection with the burglary investigation, but to our knowledge no one has yet been held accountable for the police station thefts.)

If lawmakers were agitating for an emergency meeting on the subject of crime, we would be among their most vocal supporters. If they were calling for an emergency meeting on the performance of top brass at RCIPS, we might disagree with their approach, but their intentions might nonetheless be honorable.

But let’s get something straight: This motion isn’t about crime. It’s not about the police. And, as East End MLA Arden McLean said, it’s not about Commissioner Baines. It’s about political opportunism and, perhaps, Mr. Baines’s “Britishness.”

To seize upon a handful of headlines about singular incidents of crime, and to attempt to steer the conversation toward the desired nationality of the police commissioner is, at the least, reprehensible and irresponsible.

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  1. I think that it’s time for the Government and the three pillars of the justice department of Cayman Islands to see and realize that there are definitely problems in the justice department of Cayman.

    To say this is only opposition politics , and can’t see that crime is destroying the Islands and won’t stop unless the justice department stops it .

    To think of the most important one in the justice department ,is the police department which has the responsibility to make sure that crime cases are properly documented , and evidence is secure, and suspects are caught after the crime had been committed . If these things are not done properly then the two other pillars of the justice system would not be able to effectively work .

    So Mr Premier I know you are not the best friend to the opposition , but you are the leader of government, and you should acknowledge that crime is destroying the Islands and it is partly your responsibility to make sure that it stop , and stop denying that there’s a crime problem.
    I think that if it’s not stopped you’re going to see people start selling and leaving the Islands, like how they do in other countries where crime has taken over , Cayman Islands is too small to have a large crime problem .

  2. I agree with the three pillars of justice, they all need to be effective. The police are the first line for which much of the scrutiny needs to be applied, but they are limited in their effectiveness if the other two pillars are also ineffective. One year ago we were up in arms with the increased street muggings/assaults, now this year we have a rash of home/public invasions. I am not sure how any of these three pillars can deny the concern for increasing crime. There has not been any recognition, discussion or action on the topic. I think we saw more attention to “crime” when wild beach dogs attacked the Govenor on SMB. Sometimes it seems the feelings are that if it doesn’t affect native Caymanians or the cruisers then there is no concern. I think it would be certainly a fatal mistake to discount stay over tourists, expats, and frequent long-term residents. They not only provide significant income to the island, but also are source of advertisement for the island. If frequent visitors are now feeling unsafe, and yes having your house invaded in the middle of the night with children in it is unsafe, then not only will they not come back, but they will also tell others and their word is stronger as a repeat visitor than a one time visitor. Please government take these crime issues seriously, stop it now before we are just another carribean island with high crime.

  3. I believe it is fair comment to say that the public’s lack of confidence in it’s politicians has always outweighed it’s lack of confidence in the police force. Unfortunately we are unlikely to see such a motion debated in the house.

  4. I think Chairman Mao said it didn’t matter what color a cat was as long as it caught mice.

    Would a Caymanian Chief of Police catch more criminals than the current British one?

    And would they be bought to trial more quickly? Well that is out of the hands of the police.

    The fact is that many people know who these thugs are. Mothers, friends and neighbors. But none will call the cops. In fact they will be happy to give them an alibi if they are caught.

    I wonder how many of them depend on or care about the tourist industry? And how many live on government support?

    How do we fix this underlying problem?

    Personally I am tired of picking up the newspaper every day and reading about yet another outrageous crime that belongs in Kingston.

  5. To me it’s a smack in the face for Alden to just blow off everyone’s concerns about crime. It’s obvious that he hates Mr Bush because of the way he responds to everything that comes out of this mouth. But as the leader of Cayman he really should put those feelings aside and focus on what’s best for the nation, something he’s already proven an inability to do. Right now the state of things in Cayman is that it’s not safe to walk down any street after dark, sit on your back porch and have a drink, not to mention go to sleep in your own bed, both of which are extremely expensive.

    The rash of home invasions are the worst because even when people were afraid to walk down the street they used to feel secure in their own homes, but now there’s an uneasy feeling and dark cloud over the Cayman Islands because you have to sleep with one eye open. No one want to go on vacation and pay for that feeling. Why would I leave my home in the US, where I never have to worry about waking up and someone’s in my house to go to Cayman where I have to sleep with one eye open ?

    Areas like Northside have it bad because everyone knows that there’s burglars running around with really no police resistance. They can kick a door down and rob the place even with an alarm going off because they will be long gone before the RCIPS arrives and they know this

    If Mr Alden cannot see this is a huge issue, there’s no hope, if he cannot see past his hatred for Mr Bush and focus what’s best for Cayman there’s no hope. He says this is all just opposition politics! He should know, he was the master of it while the PPM were in the Opposition seat, Mr Bush has been mild and quiet compared to what he had to deal with when Alden was in the opposition seat, he fought against everything put on the table by the PM with a hatred fueled passion, with no concern about what was best for the country. A good example is the GT Dump which still just sits there stinking. So I have no doubt that he’d rather let Cayman live in fear just because he hates Mr Bush.

    No Matter what anyone thinks of Bush he has a point that deserves immediate attention.

  6. To the Cayman Compass Editorial Board- THEREIN LIES THE RUB. There is absolutely nothing to suggest or back up the divisive suggestion that a Caymanian and i must qualify a born Caymanian (who came here by pain and not by plane as the old folk say), would do a better job than a British police commissioner. Best person for the job and let the free market govern. Best man for the job is Commissioner Baines so please allow the gentleman to do his job. I commented at length about the growing social unrest and hinted at some of the underpinning reasons we have such a high crime rate given our tranquil past and small numbers. Who is best to govern. Zika virus not here yet – knock on wood- ISIS not in Cayman yet- knock on wood. People for Heaven’s sake try and let Mr Baines do his job and help our nation for we are living in turbulent times indeed.

  7. @ Clarence Ebanks, are you implying that the now CoP is the best one for the job , and leave him alone and let him do his job.
    It looks like there’s only one who can stop him , and she thinks that CoP is doing a great job.
    But crime is destroying the Islands and people lives , and he was on the job for how long ? And has this issue gotten better or worse under the now leadership of the CoP ? Maybe it’s time for CHANGE.