Andrew Greiff at Saint-Caprais, Lot, France, in 2005.

Simon Barwick

Andrew Greiff, who served as the commissioner of police in the Cayman Islands from 1973 until 1980, and enjoyed a distinguished career around the former British colonies, died Friday, at the age of 90.

Mr. Greiff was born in 1926 in Burma where his father was in the Indian Survey Service. As Europe was edging toward the Second World War, his father retired and the family moved back to England, settling in Sussex. Despite the onset of the war and its effect on Southern England, the young Mr. Greiff thoroughly enjoyed the idyllic life that rural Sussex afforded.

In 1937, Mr. Greiff was sent to Mount St. Mary’s College, Sheffield, where he excelled in sports, making the Cricket 1st XI and representing the college in rugby. At the University of Edinburgh, he gained degrees in English and History, and also competed in the boxing team.

In 1944, having graduated from Edinburgh, he was selected for the Royal Marines, and served with them for three years. He left the Royal Marines in 1947 to join the Colonial Police Service, taking up a post in the then Tanganyika, East Africa. Fairly rapidly, Mr. Greiff advanced to the position of Provincial Police Commander, during which time the now infamous Mau Mau insurgency affected his area of responsibility.

In 1960, shortly before responsibility for policing was passed to the new government of an independent Tanzania, Mr. Greiff met his soon-to-be-bride Susan. The young couple left Africa in 1962 and, still under the auspices of the Colonial Service, moved to the then British Honduras (now Belize).

In the seven years he spent there, Mr. Greiff established the Belize Police Training School for recruits from around the British West Indies. Despite the challenges of establishing the new training school, he nonetheless managed to find time to indulge in fishing and sailing the Belize Cays.

In 1967, his career took the Greiffs and their new daughter, Joanna, to the far side of the world. In the Kingdom of Tonga for the next five years, Mr. Greiff acted as police adviser to the Tongan royal family and established a particularly strong relationship with the Crown Prince Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, to whom he became a personal mentor.

During these years, Mr. Greiff traveled extensively around the Pacific and it was in the Solomon Islands that he first met the eventual governor of the Cayman Islands, Thomas Russell. The two men were soon to become close colleagues.

Andrew Greiff, left, on his arrival in Grand Cayman in 1973, with Alex ‘Sandy’ Sommerville, head of the police’s traffic department.

On leaving Tonga in 1973 and having been awarded the Royal Order of the Crown of Tonga, Mr. Greiff headed back to the Caribbean where he took up his final police post as Cayman Islands Commissioner of Police, supporting the new governor, Mr. Russell.

The Cayman Islands were then making the early transition from sleepy fishing community to the international financial powerhouse that it is today. The family soon took to the laid-back, friendly atmosphere of Grand Cayman and, in a community where both television and golf courses were yet to be introduced, found inventive ways to pass the time.

Together with friends, the Greiffs would spend Sunday mornings horseback riding and “to make it interesting” dubbed each outing as an “Agouti Hunt.” Despite his general aptitude for sport, Mr. Greiff was a somewhat indifferent rider and spent more time off his horse than on. The outings, which never once caught the scent of the elusive rodent, would inevitably dissolve into a prolonged “Hunt Breakfast.”

Certainly, in those simpler times, the Cayman Islands Police Force under Mr. Greiff was known for being well-organized and highly disciplined. As one close friend from those years, Neil Cruickshank, remembers, “Andy was the only man I knew who could bark orders without opening his lips.”

On Mr. Greiff’s retirement from the Cayman Islands Police Force in 1980, the family moved to England where Mr. Greiff spent time advising the Civil Defence organization in Norfolk. But finding the East Coast somewhat colder than their tropical blood could tolerate, Mr. and Mrs. Greiff relocated to Southern Spain. There, they revelled in their lifelong passions for sailing, fishing, golf and mountain walking with their dogs.

In their later years, the Greiffs bought a home in Lot, France, close to other friends from their service days.

During his long police service, Mr. Greiff received both the Colonial Police Medal and the Queen’s Police Medal. He died in Norfolk on Oct. 13.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I am very sorry to hear about the passing of Mr Greiff , I give his family my deepest regards .
    I had the opportunity to entertain Mr Greiff with his many friends a few times on my boat trips and talked with him and found him to be very interesting to talk with . RIP, we have lost another good Gentleman .

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  2. Saddened to hear about the passing of Commissioner Greiff. Served under both him and Sup. Somerville. Comm. Greiff was a firm very good commissioner who gave opportunities to lots of Caymanians to join the Force.

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