Outgoing Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines is due his final year’s pay and benefits – including more than $130,000 in salary – following his separation from the police service a year before the end of his contract, according to Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office.
A statement sent to the Cayman Compass on Wednesday clarified that the commissioner and governor’s office had mutually agreed that the veteran U.K. lawman could not continue in his position due to a number of factors.
“Commissioner Baines has not resigned,” the statement read. “He will leave his post by mutual consent as the unfair criticism and defamatory comments [have] undermined his authority to the extent that his leadership of the RCIPS is no longer tenable. Given this, the governor determined that it was in the best interests of the Cayman Islands to honor the terms and conditions of the commissioner’s contract.”
Mr. Baines’s departure leaves Cayman with the prospect of hiring a new police commissioner within the next 14 months and paying that person a six-figure salary, while at the same time paying Mr. Baines, effectively doubling the Cayman government’s normal expenditure for that position.
On the other hand, Premier Alden McLaughlin pointed out Tuesday that finding a permanent police commissioner in the current climate might prove challenging.
“Given the reaction of the [political] opposition to Mr. Baines, we may find ourselves in difficulty filling the role quickly,” the premier said.
The previous RCIPS commissioner who held the post under a long-term contract, Stuart Kernohan, also did not last until the end of his working agreement. Mr. Kernohan was terminated in 2008 by former Governor Stuart Jack, about a year prior to the end of his four-year deal. Mr. Kernohan sued the Cayman Islands government over the firing and won a substantial settlement following a protracted court battle of almost five years.
Following Mr. Kernohan’s tenure, a number of temporary replacement commissioners from the U.K. and Cayman filled the role, including U.K. Metropolitan Police senior officer David George, former U.K. Civil Nuclear Constabulary deputy chief James Smith and RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis. One candidate who was appointed as acting commissioner, former St. Helena police chief Royce Hipgrave, decided not to take the job 48 hours after arriving in Cayman.
By the time Mr. Baines was appointed and took over in mid-2009, the police force was facing a “gap” – as he described it – of about 85 police vacancies, mostly police officer jobs but also some civilian positions.
“The RCIPS has seen … the hemorrhaging of skilled people leaving the force,” Mr. Baines told the Legislative Assembly in early 2010.
The commissioner also noted that the police service had to recruit neighborhood police officers, whose numbers had dwindled at the time to 12 from a previous 30 positions.
According to its last public report, the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission is “actively investigating” 12 cases of corruption, noting complaints had dropped by more than half since mid-2013.
The membership of the commission has been spotty over the past year, with Commissioner Baines, the chairman, serving as its lone member for a period. Since December, local businessman Norman Bodden has served on the commission. The acting auditor general and acting complaints commissioner are also serving on the Anti-Corruption Commission until full-time replacements for those positions are found.
Commission members confirmed Wednesday that Acting Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis would also fill in as chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
“The work of the Anti-Corruption Commission will continue despite the departure of [Mr. Baines],” according to the statement sent by Commissions Secretariat manager Deborah Bodden. “The investigators will continue to work diligently on all investigative matters which are undertaken and overseen by the Anti-Corruption Commission.”
Ms. Bodden confirmed that the commission held its first meeting in more than a year this month. She said another member of the commission appointed from civil society should be named shortly.