Top cop denies morale low

| 27/01/2009

(CNS): Against a backdrop of complaints that morale is low and an unprecedented number of alleged resignations from the Royal Cayman Island Police Service, Acting Commissioner James Smith, the fifth man in the job since March, has denied that the service is suffering any more problems than the normal day to day pressures of policing. “People have told me morale is low,” he said. “But they are not demoralized, they are under pressure.”

He said he had been out on the streets and worked with the various units and the problems that existed were down to normal operational pressures of policing, and while there are always some people who are demoralized, the acting commissioner insisted it was no different from any other job. He said that the 6% cut in resources imposed on the public sector would further impact staffing levels which will add to the pressure. However, that pressure was part and parcel of the work encountered by the police as a matter of course, and with numbers down officers were bound to feel the stresses, he said.

Staffing levels at the department have reportedly fallen by around 25 uniformed officers since 2007 and there were no recruiting classes conducted during 2008. Smith said given the circumstances it was not possible to have officers in all the places he would want 24 hours a day but it was his job to manage the situation.

“My job is to be firmly in control, to give strong direction, to give clear leadership and get a grip on the issues that are causing concern,” he added. “We need to look at ways to manage officers properly and (ensure) they get properly rewarded, and we are in discussions to see how we can meet that challenge.

He said equipment and resources were important and that the development of the new marine unit, the arrival of the boats and the training unit would all helped to alleviate some pressures.

Despite being employed for a six month contract only, Smith spoke about his need to relate his long term vision of how he sees the service developing in the future. He said that was ongoing and he would be briefing officers in a full and formal manner about that shortly. However, on his arrival in December Smith said he would not be making any decisions about whether or not he would apply for the full time position of Police Commissioner and that the six months would give him a chance to get to know the service and the service to get to know him.

Smith has already applied and been turned down for the position in the past as he was one of the candidates beaten out by the former Commissioner of Police, Stuart Kernohan, who was sacked by the governor last year. Kernohan, Chief Superintendent Jones and Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon were suspended as a result of a Met investigation into accusations made against Deputy Commissioner Ennis and newspaper publisher Desmond Seales which began in September 2007. Since then, Smith is the fourth acting commissioner to step into the top cop’s role.

The investigation is estimated to have exceeded four million dollars and has moved from one conducted by Scotland Yard officers to retired police officers employed directly by GovernorStuart Jack. Meanwhile, morale within the RCIPS has said to be very low, with a number of senior and uniform officers quitting.

The Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), led by SIO Martin Bridger, has recently turned its attention back to the RCIPS after an unsuccessful investigation into the local judiciary. The unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson saw Bridger and his team face damning condemnation in the court for both the illegal arrest and search of the judge’s home and office

With the SPIT focusing on the RCIPS once again, so far the only officer charged is Dixon who is facing misconduct allegations relating to two independent decisions he made to release individuals arrested. According to SPIT, Chief Superintendent John Jones has been interviewed but charges have not been brought, nor has Jones returned to work and remains suspended on full pay. There has been no indication whether or not Kernohan has yet been interviewed and no charges have been brought against him.

 

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Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    For the 99th time, please stop referring to the Commissioner of Police as the "Top Cop".

    It is a disgraceful cliche, and I wish you would cease the practice. You are better than that.

  2. Twyla M Vargas says:

    CONFIDENCE AND COMMUNICATION

    Confidence and good communication will be the key to enhancing the police force.  Take for instance being the boss in your home or your job.  If you have confidence and good communication with your family and employees the house will run smooth.  Why?, I believe trust is very important in a relationship whether it be at home or at work.

    Take for instance after a hards work you drive into your gate at home, enter your home and it is so quiet as if no one lived there, children hiding, wife hiding dog and the cat hiding, even the parrot hiding; and you wonder why.   Its because they are afraid of you.  We have had some very good commissioners of Police in Cayman, and I name a few, Mr. Pocock,  Mr Andrew Grife, Mr  Braggs and  a few others, but we have had some scoundrels too, who have caused the police to live on the edge.  Its was not good.  I believe if you treat your family good they will be too happy to greet you when you come home.  I believe that if you treat your police officers good they will work better.   Now there will always be a few spoil ones, then that is a job for the commissioner to take care of.

    I will call a spade a spade, and I certainly will apeak against the police when I see they are not doing a good job.    I will safely say are doing an exceptionally good job in being very vigilent in combating crime,  the best way they can with what they have.    I believe the public too, needs to give the police credit publicly when it is due.   Ever had a child come home from school with good report and you never made a good coment?  Comment!!! and give treat, that is what keeps them going. 

    I have been observing the new acting Commissioner and I believe he has good intentions, however; I will say "tread softly",  Living in the Cayman Islands and working her, you will soon come to realize that every body is family, and they make it their business to know your business.   Communication and confidence will give you a better police force.   Listen to what everyone has to say, give them a good reason when they are preparing for duty that they may feel happy to be a part of the Service.  District meetings, is akey.  It is the only true way to find out what is actually happening 20 miles from Headquarters.  Beside that you will get to know the whole Island, instead of a little piece.   Somethings we will not be able to change, but it is nothing wrong with trying to control them.  It is a dirty job, but somebody,s got to do it.  Stay safe, and be blessed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is it really necessary to keep referring to the Investigation Team as "SPIT"? It calls into question the impartiality in your reporting when you continue to refer to the Officers concerned with this derogatory term.

    • Lorna Bush says:

      I do not think that Cayman News Service was referring to any specific officers when they used the acronym  ‘SPIT’ .   Neither did they conjure up this name.  I should think you should address your concerns to the Governor who has referred or named them the ‘Special Police Investigation Team’ or SPIT.

      I for one think ‘SPIT’  is quite fitting a referral to this particular team based on what they have produced thus far.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lorna,

        I did not say that the acronym referred to specific Officers but to the Team as a whole. Perhaps the Team should be refrred to as the Special Investigation Team – or even Investigation Team – or Police Officers from the Met investigating Corruption…… The list is endless but that acronym is chosen above others.  

        I could think up numerous acronyms that could be termed offensive for various Government Departments or even this ‘News Service’ etc but I choose not to as I think that would be rude.

        • Lorna Bush says:

          Anonymous, you have missed the point completely and also, it appears that you do not know the correct definition of acronym.  For instance, Cayman News Service, to which you referred, can have one acronym and one only – CNS. That’s it – nothing else!

          • Anonymous says:

            Give it a rest, Lorna. You have no point. It appears you do not understand the meaning of acronym, i.e. a word formed from the initial letters of other words as in Special Police Investigation Team = SPIT. In the strict sense, CNS (not being a word) is not an acronym, but an abbreviation.  Before you try to lecture others, make sure you have got it right.   

      • Anonymous says:

        Forgot to add……. I’m sure the Governor referred to the Team as the "Special Police Investigation Team" and not spit. The acronym has been used by those who feel the need to deride the investigation.

        • Anonymous says:

          As if they haven’t caused that upon themselves!

        • Anonymous says:

          SPIT (not spit) is an acronym for a name chosen by the Governor, not CNS. Get over it. The investigation has derided itself.