Police Commissioner Baines to leave post by end of May

Commissioner David Baines
Commissioner David Baines
Commissioner David Baines

Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick announced the departure of Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines by the end of May in a surprise public statement Tuesday afternoon.

The departure will come a year before the end of Mr. Baines’s contract, which expires on May 31, 2017.

“The recent barrage of unfair criticism and defamatory comments has undermined the commissioner’s authority to the extent that his leadership of the RCIPS is no longer tenable,” Governor Kilpatrick’s statement read. “The commissioner continues to have my support and will do so until he leaves his post.”

Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis will take over as acting commissioner until a new commissioner is appointed through a recruitment process.

“I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the dedicated service that Commissioner Baines has given to the Cayman Islands over the last seven years,” Governor Kilpatrick’s statement continued. “Crime statistics show that over this period the Cayman Islands have remained amongst the safest communities in the Caribbean. In addition to leading the RCIPS with professionalism, Commissioner Baines has made a significant contribution to policing in the wider Caribbean through his chairmanship of the Caribbean Chiefs of Police group and his leadership of work on firearms and gun crime for all of the Caribbean Overseas Territories.

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“Ensuring the security of the Cayman Islands is a responsibility we all share. The RCIPS needs and deserves the support of our community to do their vital work.”

Mr. Baines will receive “what he is entitled to” under the remainder of his contract, according to the governor’s statement.

Commissioner Baines, contacted by the Cayman Compass late Tuesday afternoon, declined to elaborate on the governor’s statement.

Tuesday’s announcement came against the backdrop of two legislative motions that concern the effectiveness and management of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Both motions are scheduled to be heard in an emergency Legislative Assembly meeting set for April 13.

East End MLA Arden McLean’s motion seeks an independent review of police management practices in which he says lawmakers have a “lack of confidence” following a litany of complaints over the past few months, and further seeks the installment of a Caymanian police commissioner.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush’s motion requests an independent review of the police response to an incident on March 6 in which five Caymanian boaters – including two children – went missing and have not been found.

The emergency legislative meeting was confirmed Tuesday by Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly’s office. It was due to be held 12 days before the assembly’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 25.

Premier Alden McLaughlin criticized the opposition members in a statement late Tuesday.

“It is unfortunate that the recent motions filed by members of the opposition in the House concerning policing have put us in this predicament,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “Essentially, government is going to have to pay Mr. Baines for the remainder of his contract while the Cayman Islands has no commissioner of police in place and, given the reaction of the opposition to Mr. Baines, we may find ourselves in difficulty in filling the role quickly.”

Mr. McLaughlin continued, “Additionally, with Deputy Commissioner Stephen Brougham scheduled to leave the service in September, leadership of the RCIPS will present a real challenge until these vacancies in two of the top three positions are filled.

“Although the irresponsible actions of the opposition have made the task more difficult, the government will continue to support the RCIPS, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis who will act as commissioner in the interim and work with Her Excellency to ensure that the Cayman Islands remains one of the safest and most secure jurisdictions in the world.”

Mr. Bush was adamant Tuesday afternoon, following the announcement regarding Mr. Baines’s departure, that the emergency meeting would still be held next month.

“Of course, it is still happening, there are matters that we need to expose,” he said. Mr. Bush indicated he supported the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Ennis as acting commissioner.

Mr. McLean was noncommittal about his intentions regarding the April 13 meeting, in light of Mr. Baines’s departure. He had jointly called for an emergency meeting of the assembly, along with Mr. Bush and Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo, during a press conference last week.

Premier McLaughlin said last week that he believed there was no need to hold an emergency meeting to hear the two private members’ motions.

The premier had agreed to hear the issues during the regular legislative meeting.

However, the ultimate decision whether to hold the emergency meeting is the purview of the Speaker of the House, according to constitutional and parliamentary rules. Ms. O’Connor-Connolly is off island and was unable to preside over the meeting any sooner than mid-April. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Premier McLaughlin has suggested that an eight-member opposition bench, consisting of three members from Mr. Bush’s Cayman Islands Democratic Party and five independent members, would not be able to hold a meeting due to a lack of a quorum unless at least two other members of the government bench showed up. In that scenario, Mr. McLaughlin said one member of the government could show up and object to the House meeting with fewer than a majority of 10 members and no meeting could be held.

Mr. Bush said he was disappointed that the emergency meeting could not be held this week, as he had requested. He also disagreed with Mr. McLaughlin’s legal interpretation regarding how many members are required to hold an assembly meeting.

“We say otherwise,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. McLaughlin accused his longtime political rival of playing politics with the motion regarding the disappearance of the boaters.

“It is regrettable that the loss of five Caymanians at sea is being seized upon as an opportunity by the opposition to score political points,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

With regard to the police management issues, the premier said his administration was concerned about “recent failures” on a “range of matters.”

“We believe a review of the services is necessary to address these issues,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “However, as a society, we cannot blame crime on the police service as a whole or on any individual within the service. Criminality is a problem of society and its causes are complex.”

Last week, Governor Kilpatrick released a rare public statement unequivocally backing Mr. Baines, who has served as RCIPS commissioner since June 2009. Mr. Baines had previously indicated he would not seek an extension to his contract.

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  1. Mr Commissioner, I believe the one thing that may have not been considered, and advice to any successor, is that Caymanians:
    ” AND PICTURE THIS,” when Caymanians have their hands around your neck , and at the same time their head in your mouth they ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE UP.
    Acting Chief Innis is a very good Candidate, Home grown, intelligent and trustworthy, coming from bottom of the ladder and a well hard climb to the top, and in the same breath I would like to hope Chief Kurt Walton throws his hat in the ring, because he is also a number one Candidate for the job. He is “Home Grown” intelligent, trusting and know how to deal with people. A fine gentleman with an exceptionally fine background.
    To The commissioner I say thanks for your time spent with us, and if your successor is not a Caymanian, I would suggest he learn fast by reading and understanding what is meant by what I said in my second opening paragraph “‘AND PICTURE THIS”” Good luck to all.

  2. People need to be careful what they ask for;they might end up getting it, with a bonus.

    I have never and will never consider it good strategy to attack the police for political gain and leverage and this is exactly what has happened in this case.

    Yes, mistakes have been made and we don’t live in a perfect world and it is an extremely difficult job but….

    Those politicians who have forced Baines out of the job need to remember where the Cayman Islands was, in the fall-out of Operation Tempura, when he took over leadership of the RCIPS.

    When gang warfare and gun crime was threatening to disrupt the Caymanian society in ways that would have been irreversible, if things were not brought under control.

    That they have been, without the loss of life at police hands that would have been inevitable in any other country has to stand as Mr. Baines legacy, as he leaves.

    As I always say when my actions in carrying out my job sometimes, when methodology is questioned…’you cannot make omellettes without breaking eggs’….to get the job done, you might inevitably have to displease a few people and ruffle a few feathers but…

    If the outcome benefits the majority, it will have been worth it.

    I hope that these politicians have long enough memories to recall the de-stabilization of Cayman between 2009 and 2012, when the guns stopped barking in Cayman…and have remained quiet…

    And that they can guarantee that they will not again begin to bark, in the transition period of the RCIPS being given a new leader.

  3. @ Ricardo Tatum
    I don’t actually remember gang warfare having broken out on the streets before Baines took over in the immediate aftermath of Tempura. What I do remember is what happened in the RCIPS after he took over. Immediately following his appointment over 30 experienced police officers and civilian specialists quit the force, they took with them years of training and experience that has never properly been replaced. This exodus has continued steadily ever since and if that doesn’t tell you something about the current RCIPS leadership you clearly aren’t watching very closely. Commissioner Baines has also succeeded in alienating the media and large sections of the public by his leadership style. If you think that’s the way forward for local policing you are very mistaken.

    Despite all that I’m not sure that Baines should have quit now. It gives out completely the wrong impression of what is going on and IMHO he should have stayed on and toughed it out. Certainly he shouldn’t be accepting a rather nice ‘golden handshake’ in the form of what looks suspiciously like 12 months severance in lieu of notice. But then again this is the way he’s run things for the past six years without any challenges so who am I to criticise?

  4. David Williams.

    I appreciate your valuable comments and insight; other perspectives are always important.

    However, we can disagree on a few points and still remain relevant.

    First of all, you are ignoring the root of de-stabilization of the RCIPS and the time-line and events involved.

    I’m not sure how much you know about the overall circumstances but I can assure you, some of us don’t need the release of documents into the public realm to know exactly what happened but this is not a discussion about those events, which consequences are still un-resolved in some cases.

    Operation Tempura began sometime in late 2007 and by mid-2008, had become public knowledge and the consequences of its down-fall has been catastrophic for the RCIPS and Cayman.

    The RCIPS has never been the most professional of police forces; that much must be acknowledged.

    The first incident of gang-related murder took place in July, 2009, at which time the RCIPS was an almost totally dysfunctional police force, after having been through a series of candidates for the CoP position, as a result of Operation Tempura.

    It was in this environment that the dogs of gang war in Cayman were let loose and it has been Mr. Baines job to rein them in and that his officers have done this without bloodshed is remarkable and commendable; most of the gangsters and murderers are behind bars in Northward now as a result of their work.

    As we criticise, we also need to give credit where it is due.

    I am not in any way trying to defend Mr. Baines; I’m just pointing out certain facts.

    You can have your opinion as to whether many of those officers of the RCIPS left the organization voluntarily, or whether they were forced to leave as a result of the re-structuring of the organization under Mr. Baines; that is a matter for conjecture.

    What we cannot argue with is that the overshadowing threat of open gang war-fare and bare-faced armed robbery in un-checked proportions has subsided…for now.

    Mr. Baines also set an example of what any law-enforcement, peace or security officer should represent…courage in the face of personal danger and that is to be respected.

    It is easy to target the one individual for the institutionalsied weaknesses of the RCIPS; weaknesses that these same politicians have aided and abetted over the years…they are, none of them, of squeaky-clean hands when it comes to manipulation and undermining the police when it serves their purpose.

    Where I have a problem is the pot calling the kettle black, when we are used to dealing with both black pots and kettles.

  5. The Police Commissioner leaves and politicians insist the new Commissioner is Caymanian. This leads to an exodus of ex patriate staff.
    The UK votes to leave the EU meaning financial services will relocate away from Cayman.
    A rejuvenated Cuba starts to lour tourists away from Cayman.
    A perfect storm approaches……….. No wonder the Ritz is up for sale!

  6. John I am forced to say a few things to your comments. Number one, I do not think that Politicians are really insisting that the new commissioner is a Caymanian at all; and if that became the case, I would like to know how, and why would this lead to an exodus of expatriate staff? Are you saying that there are NO CAYMANIANS capable of taking on the role of Commissioner of Police? . I sincerely hope that is not what you mean.
    And please, the surmising that “The UK votes to leave the EU meaning financial services will relocate away from Cayman” has been flung at us for ages now, and no one has gone anywhere who does not want to come back.
    “A rejuvenated Cuba” starts to lure tourist away from Cayman?”.
    One thing I know for certain is that expatriates who have roughed it with us all these years, raised their children through earthquakes hurricanes and bad weather, cried with us laughed at times and even wish each other would disappear at times; know exactly who we are and would be fools to root up for the unknown. My advice is “Nothing beats a trial but a failure” and I would not try to discourage anyone , only say “Follow your dream”