On behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands, we at the Compass would like to extend our warmest welcome to new Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne.
As of our press deadline Thursday afternoon, Commissioner Byrne was set to arrive on Grand Cayman within hours. His first day of work, accordingly, is today. And with local police in the midst of a crackdown on local gang members threatening to ignite a firestorm of “tit for tat” violence in the wake of the shooting death of Justin Manderson, it is an ideal time for Commissioner Byrne to assert his leadership and demonstrate the qualities and credentials that secured him this post.
Almost certainly, there will be occasions in days to come when this newspaper will scrutinize Commissioner Byrne’s official actions, question aspects of the police service under his management, or otherwise find ourselves on opposite sides of a particular issue — however, today is not that day.
Not only do we subscribe to the general rule of giving new people to the island “the benefit of the doubt,” but specifically in regard to Commissioner Byrne, we are impressed by his distinguished resume, which details a three-decade-plus rise to the top of the ranks of the Irish national police service (An Garda Siochana), culminating with an eight-year tenure supervising operations and strategic command for serious and organized crime, and includes training with Scotland Yard and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Additionally, on the topic of the police, we unwaveringly support efforts to maintain law and order in Cayman. In other words, though we may disagree at times with the top brass at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, when it comes to police officers’ mission to fight crime and promote public safety, we are always on their side.
(Just as, for example, we support educators who seek to cultivate the minds of our children, entrepreneurs who drive the economy and elected officials who conduct themselves as statesmen for our country.)
The job description of police commissioner is as challenging as any profession we can think of, and achieving success is of paramount significance to the present and future of our islands. That being said, while Cayman (like all societies) has its share of criminal actors, as evidenced by the recent violence we mentioned earlier in this editorial, our territory is largely a peaceful one, and has earned its reputation of being a safe place to live in and visit, for the simple reason that it happens to be true.
We employed the phrase “maintain law and order” purposefully: We don’t need Commissioner Byrne to “crack down” on an out-of-control criminal element, or to “rescue” the populace from the threat of emerging chaos, but rather to take up and carry the banner of justice that already flies over Cayman.
Sure, there’s more than enough work to be done. Our police service could, and should, strive to improve itself continually as an organization. But thanks largely to the efforts of previous leaders, including ex-Police Commissioner David Baines and Acting Commissioner Anthony Ennis (who steps back down to his deputy commissioner’s post upon Mr. Byrne’s arrival), we can assert authoritatively that our streets are safe, our property is secure, and the Rule of Law prevails in the Cayman Islands.
It is crucial that we keep it that way. It is with great confidence that we entrust that duty to Commissioner Byrne.