New police commissioner to arrive in Cayman Thursday

Derek Byrne
Derek Byrne

Cayman’s new police commissioner, Derek Byrne, is scheduled to arrive on island Thursday evening to take up his post, the governor’s office confirmed this week.

Mr. Byrne’s appointment to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was announced in August after a recruitment process that short-listed three candidates for the top cop’s job.

The new commissioner’s public schedule was uncertain as of Wednesday, but governor’s office representatives expected he would “hit the ground running” and report to work for his first day on Friday, if all went as planned with travel arrangements.

Mr. Byrne, who is from Dublin, Ireland, replaces former Commissioner David Baines who left his job in late May following a public dispute with some members of the Legislative Assembly over various policing issues, including the police response to a group of missing boaters earlier in the year. Mr. Baines, who had served as commissioner between 2009 and 2016, alleged there had been a “political plot” to get rid of him.

Acting Commissioner Anthony Ennis has served in the role since June 1. He will resume his deputy commissioner’s post once Mr. Byrne arrives.

Mr. Byrne served as assistant commissioner of An Garda Siochana, “the guards” – as Ireland’s national police service is sometimes called – and has supervised operations and strategic command for serious and organized crime for the past eight years.

Mr. Byrne’s appointment to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was announced in August after a recruitment process that short-listed three candidates for the top cop’s job.

The Dublin native joined the guards in 1979 and was appointed as assistant commissioner of national support services there in May 2007, according to the Irish national police website.

Mr. Byrne attended Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has trained with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation at Quantico, Virginia, and with Scotland Yard during his career. He also holds a diploma in management and industrial relations from the National College of Ireland.

Mr. Byrne said in August that it was a “great honor” to be selected to lead the RCIPS. Governor Helen Kilpatrick said she was glad to have “a distinguished police officer of Mr. Byrne’s caliber” heading the local police service.

“Within my first month I will visit all of the islands to meet with community leaders, community groups and business leaders to obtain a firsthand account of policing requirements on the islands, which will feed into and inform future strategic planning and the direction of the policing service,” the new commissioner said.

Mr. Byrne was selected from a short list that included a British and an American candidate. There were no Caymanian applicants who made the final short list after Cayman’s two most senior ranking officers, Mr. Ennis and Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton, said they had not applied for the job.

Mr. Byrne is the first non-U.K. or non-Caymanian police commissioner to serve the islands in recent times. The vast majority of Cayman’s former police commissioners have hailed from the U.K.

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