Governor to ‘short-list’ candidates for police commissioner this week

Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines has not departed yet, but the process to select his replacement is well under way, Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office confirmed Friday.

Following advertisements both internationally and locally for the $130,000-a-year post, representatives of the governor’s office said that they expected short-listing of the candidates to occur next week. The formal interview process would commence afterward, officials said.

A total of 53 people applied for the job, including some Caymanians, the governor’s office confirmed.

Job interviews will be conducted by a panel made up of the governor, deputy governor, Bermuda Police Commissioner Michael De Silva and two panel members to be selected, one by Premier Alden McLaughlin, the other by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush.

Current Commissioner Baines, who leaves that job officially at the end of the month, is not involved in the selection process.

The governor’s office set no time frame for the final selection of the new commissioner.

Mr. Baines’s departure was agreed with the governor earlier this year after a public uproar over a number of incidents involving police management and administrative issues, most notably the RCIPS response to five missing boaters off 12 Mile Bank on March 6. Those boaters – including two children – have never been found.

The outgoing commissioner will receive an additional year’s salary through to May 31, 2017 including pension benefits, the governor’s office said, due to the circumstances of his departure.

“[Mr. Baines] 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,” a March governor’s office statement noted. “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.”

Premier McLaughlin said in March that he was concerned that, given the political climate that exists at the moment, it might be difficult to find a replacement for Mr. Baines quickly.

However, if a new commissioner is selected relatively soon from among the 53 applicants currently before the governor’s office, it could leave Cayman with the prospect of hiring a new police commissioner and paying that person a six figure salary, in addition to paying Mr. Baines.

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 contract. Mr. Kernohan sued the Cayman Islands government over the firing and won a substantial settlement following a protracted court battle lasting 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.