Phillips named ‘Officer of the Year’

RCIPS’s finest, community members honored

Fifteen years after he went on his first work experience “ride along” with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Police Constable Brandaughn Phillips is now the standard against which all local police officers are measured in 2017.

“He has chased down burglars, even into the sea itself … provided primary medical care to victims of stabbings and shootings and resuscitated drowning victims,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said Thursday night during an awards presentation at Government House. “Brandaughn is not afraid of a foot chase or a car chase, or indeed any other kind of chase. He will do anything to help an officer in need.”

Mr. Byrne’s remarks came during the annual RCIPS Outstanding Service Awards where PC Phillips was named Police Officer of the Year. It was Mr. Byrne’s first time hosting the awards and the first time the event was held at Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s beach residence. Despite a number of unexpected visitors crashing the party in the form of flying termites, Commissioner Byrne said the annual event was a big success and remains an important way to honor Cayman’s dedicated police officers.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne congratulates Police Officer of the Year Brandaughn Phillips. – PHOTO: MAGGIE JACKSON

“We have members of the community joining us tonight to acknowledge the fine work done by its officers throughout the course of the year,” Mr. Byrne said, adding that eight different categories of awards were given out during the event – including one for community members who assisted the police in their job. “It’s a bit like an iceberg, there’s an awful lot that’s not seen that’s under the surface and tonight we try to bring that above the surface.

“The men and women of RCIPS go out on a daily basis, when people are at home in their beds at night … these people are out there doing what they can to protect our homes and communities,” the commissioner said.

PC Phillips, 31, said Thursday night that he was humbled by the honor he competed for against fellow officers Police Sergeant Roje Williams and Police Constable Cyril Gordon.

“We join knowing that we don’t do it for the recognition … we help those who need help. Us being there at the right time is the most important thing,” Mr. Phillips said.

The RCIPS Tactical Firearms Unit, which saw its first fatal shooting of an armed suspect in decades earlier this year, received the commissioner’s Unit Citation Award, accepted on behalf of the firearms unit by Police Sergeant Loxley Solomon. The runner-up in the category was the RCIPS Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force.

“Last year, [the firearms unit] recovered 15 firearms and arrested a number of dangerous suspects … making significant contributions to public safety in the process,” Mr. Byrne said.

Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton congratulates 6-year-old Kiana Clarke for her community efforts. – PHOTO: STEPHEN CLARKE

The police awards also honored members of the special constabulary, volunteer police officers who give up a portion of their free time to assist paid RCIPS officers with a number of tasks. The 2017 Special Constable of the Year award was given to Special Constable Glinton Williams.

“He works far above the requisite hours and makes himself available even when off duty,” Commissioner Byrne said. Special Constable Medardo Martinez was the runner-up in the category.

It is not only police officers who received awards at the annual ceremony Thursday night. Civilian support staff and regular members of the public were also given kudos for helping police officers. “Without their assistance, we’d be lost,” the commissioner said.

The Community Award was given to Jykalli Swaby who was making a delivery in December when he saw a woman running by him screaming “Thief!” Mr. Swaby offered the woman a ride in his vehicle and followed the suspect who had stolen her phone and then climbed aboard a public bus. Mr. Swaby called 911 and gave a “running commentary” while tailing the “suspect vehicle” along West Bay Road where police intercepted the bus and arrested the man who had taken the phone.

Winner of the Auxiliary Constable of the Year Carol Swaby with runner-up Lennox Curtis Ebanks. – PHOTO: MAGGIE JACKSON

“Mr. Swaby could have continued along his way that morning, but he chose to get involved and help,” Mr. Byrne said.

The contributions of residents Jevone Mitchell, Clancie Bourke and Leroy Whittaker were also noted, as the three participated in a water rescue of two snorkelers off the coast of East End. “One of the snorkelers needed medical attention and may have drowned if not for theirefforts,” the commissioner said.

The police support staff member of the year award went to Shelda Lynch, who works as an administrative secretary in the police criminal justice department. “Her competence has enabled officers to respond to urgent policing matters because they know she can be relied upon,” Commissioner Byrne said.

Other awards were handed out for officers who looked after police welfare, the recipient of which was Police Constable Vincent Mitchell who has volunteered to run a health and fitness program for police officers and support staff. Police Constable Jonathan Kern received the Diversity Award for his efforts in raising funds for charities and the care of special needs children and the disabled.

THE 2017 POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR Constable Brandaughn Phillips, center, with finalists Sergeant Roje Williams, left, and Constable Cyril Gordon

The Auxiliary Constable of the Year award was given to Carol Swaby, a courts security officer, who has “brought about several arrests for drugs and other offenses” for those attending court, according to the commissioner.

Although they were not given specific awards, RCIPS officers Chief Inspector Patrick Beersingh, Police Sergeant Neil Mohammed and Detective Sergeant Orlando Mason were mentioned by Commissioner Byrne for their exceptional service over the years. Sergeant Mason received a special mention for his role in the surrender of an armed murder suspect in West Bay during a hostage situation.

“[Mr.] Mason convinced the man to surrender with no further shots fired or lives lost,” Mr. Byrne said. “Detective Sergeant Mason is not a trained negotiator, but he saved lives that day. I am sure of it.”

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