In a laboratory, there are certain chemicals that, individually, are benign or even beneficial — but, when combined, create nitroglycerine. In the real world, two such substances are politics and policing.

Politicians have no business infringing on the duties of police officers. Such encroachment is invariably dangerous.

That is precisely why the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is under the auspices of the Office of the Governor, and not the premier, the leader of the opposition or the Legislative Assembly at large.

The pair of parliamentary motions seeking independent reviews of the police — and which have engendered the planned early departure of Police Commissioner David Baines — are political pandering to the proverbial lowest common denominator.

It is disconcerting, at the least, that during a time when high-profile, even cavalier, crime seems to be on the increase — involving violence, drugs and/or guns — voices of prominent public figures are not ringing out against those committing the criminal acts, but are leading a braying chorus against a symbolic figure of criminal justice.

Mr. Baines’s departure is a loss for the Cayman Islands — and a victory for inappropriate parochial politics.

If lawmakers were serious about addressing issues of crime in this country, their upcoming “emergency” session would be focused on stopping the criminal elements of society and strengthening the police. Instead, they are set to discuss “police methodology of administration,” the desired nationality of the future police commissioner, and the appropriateness of the police response to five missing boaters (which, from all available evidence, appears to have been entirely appropriate).

Then there’s the rambling assortment of accusations being flung at Mr. Baines by West Bay MLA Bernie Bush, via a formal complaint lodged with local and British authorities.

Regardless of our readers’ political orientations or personal opinions about Mr. Baines, how many truly believe that Mr. Baines’s early departure, and the resulting vacuum in leadership, will: a) make Cayman safer; b) improve police performance; or c) make criminals in our country feel less secure?

The answer is probably close to zero.

According to a statement from Governor Helen Kilpatrick, “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.”

It didn’t have to come to this. The truth is this governor and past governors have never fulfilled their duties as overseers of the RCIPS — either behind the scenes or on center stage — in terms of setting the standard for law enforcement in our islands.

We remain baffled by how organized crime — the numbers game, the drug trade and the smuggling of weapons — can continue to be hidden “in plain sight” in Cayman, with nary a word from the succession of governors who have allowed this to happen under their watches.

At the street level, a “culture of silence” pervades our society, where 50 people can witness the occurrence of a crime, yet when it comes to talking to police, “nobody’s seen nuthin’.” Effective law enforcement is almost impossible under these circumstances.

Those problems can’t be solved simply by appointing a Caymanian police commissioner. When we’re seeking out the next person to lead our police, we need to recruit and hire the best person — period.

The consequences of doing otherwise are enormous, and explosive.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I would suggest, we be very careful in openly suggesting that a Caymanian police commissioner should not be selected.
    What expressing this forthright will do, is to cause people to prepare another noose for a successor if he is expatriate.
    Please let us not let this happen. As far as I am concern the person could come from Timbuktu, but if that person come with a “Head full of Beans” in no time it will turn into a stew pot for islanders.

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  2. I remain to be convinced that Baines departure is a bad thing. In fact I’d argue that the Governor has had to put up with his petty tantrums and ill-considered comments for way too long. His style of leadership has never worked and at times, particularly when the Compass published material he didn’t appreciate, has often best been described as a ‘bunker mentality’. Rather than address his recent critics he concluded that they were, “speaking with total confidence from a position of total ignorance.” A comment that seems to speak volumes for his attitude towards the local population and their elected representatives. If he’d tried that with politicians in the UK the media would have torn him to pieces.

    However, what is disturbing about all this is the way it harks back to the removal of Derek Haines and the disbandment of his very effective DTF just over a decade ago, particularly the fact that the person who led that campaign was also involved in the motion that apparently led to Baines removal. Although the circumstances are very different (Derek was the subject of a totally unjustified witch hunt) you can see a dangerous trend developing here. If at any time in the future the electorate chooses representatives whose interests are not, as happened in TCI, aligned with the forces of law and order this effectively opens the door to them using the LA to force the removal of any senior police officer who seems to be getting in their way. If that officer then decides, as I’m tempted to suggest happened here, to cut his loses and quit they, and their vested interests, will have won.

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  3. Twla, if a Caymanian is selected to succeed Mr Baines and experiences similar problems, in what is a very difficult job, I hope you will not be recommending a noose for him.

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  4. Roger you know me very well, and I am not going to get personally involved in any rope hanging down Town. But as long as you have lived here, you mean to tell me that up until this day, you still do not think we are worth the salt in our pots. Roger it is time you settle down with us now.

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    • Twyla, after 47 years here I have grown to appreciate the benefits of Cayman and I certainly settled down a long time ago. Do forgive me if I have rubbed salt in your pot, for one of the benefits here is enjoying life here is the relaxed life style and friendliness of Caymanians, especially the older generation.

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      • Roger well said. I support your remarks. It is father ironic and having been here a similar number of years I fail to record any love shown to any commissioner from Ron Pocock onwards. All they get is flack. This is a very small island to to select a Caymanian Commissioner related to so many people and is thwart with difficulty as experienced by both the TCI, BVI and similar Caribbean territories.
        As elections get nearer politicians will use any means to seek votes. It happens every four years. Everyone and his dog from the Governor onwards can expect vitriolic attacks from certain politicians particulary those in West Bay who make the most noise but in effect are only there to feather their own nests.
        Politics is akin to gambling you need pull the right handles.

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  5. From the Editorial:

    “…We remain baffled by how organized crime — the numbers game, the drug trade and the smuggling of weapons — can continue to be hidden “in plain sight” in Cayman, with nary a word from the succession of governors who have allowed this to happen under their watches.”

    Does the Editorial Board think that public silence by the Governor is an excuse for the COP not to act?

    Or is the Editorial Board implying that the Governor “ordered” the COP not to act?

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  6. Exactly how is ‘Mr.Baines’ a lost to the Cayman Islands? It’s not like he was wholly involved with the community at large! Ever watched ‘Walking Tall?’ the movie with actor Dwayne Johnson. What Cayman needs is a true general who is respected and deeply known within the islands. Who knows the ins and outs, the routes and the people! Who better than someone native to the island. And can the police commissioner or the governor honestly say, that had it been their children or relatives on that boat, that the response from the RCIP was “entirely appropriate” Wouldn’t you criticize them for taking your family lightly? Come on! They didn’t even contact the US Coast Guard in a crisis! And they call it “Unfair Criticism!” Really?

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