56 police officers forced on leave

Excess comp time a liability for RCIPS

George Town Police Station

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has directed 56 officers to go on leave this year due to the officers accruing compensatory time far in excess of what’s allowed by RCIPS policy.

Answering a question posed in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday by opposition legislator Arden McLean, Acting Deputy Governor Gloria McField-Nixon said that by the end of last year, the 56 RCIPS personnel had accrued 51,914 hours of comp time valued at $1,166,087.

Comp time among the police ranged from a minimum of 256.5 hours to a maximum of 1,102 hours, the latter amounting to more than 100 paid days off. The force’s policy is to allow a maximum of 75 accrued hours of comp time, said Ms. McField-Nixon.

The RCIPS offered a buyout amounting to 50 percent of the value of their comp time, but many officers declined. RCIPS Commissioner Derek Byrne ordered them in March to take leave and use their excess hours. Some officers took leave effective May 1, while others were allowed to schedule their leave at a more convenient time for them, according to Ms. McField-Nixon.

The acting deputy governor explained that it was necessary to have the officers take leave as soon as possible because the accrued hours were a growing liability to the RCIPS, due to factors such as salary increases and cost-of-living adjustments.

Mr. McLean asked how the situation got so bad in the first place.

Ms. McField-Nixon responded that it took years for the problem to reach its current state, and that the primary drivers of the glut of comp time hours were officers working overtime for investigations, court attendance on rest dates, policing at special events and other work.

“In the absence of a budget provision to pay overtime, this was recorded as comp time,” she said.

Police are also looking at ways to manage the comp time accrual because it was found that “there wasn’t necessarily adequate governance” in the force’s policy, she added.

She said one solution is a new RCIPS policy restricting accrual of comp time without approval of the chief inspector.

Mr. McLean also asked whether the RCIPS was understaffed due to the dozens of officers having to use their hundreds of hours of comp time.

Some officers are accruing comp time while working for those officers who are on leave, Ms. McField-Nixon responded. However, the net effect of the new policy has been a $71,698 reduction of the value of the comp time of RCIPS officers.

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