“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.
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.