Shift change ups cop presence

| 20/08/2010

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has changed the way its shifts operate in order to boost the number of officers available and offer more flexibility for police cover.  With police numbers still falling short of full capacity, the police commissioner has said that the change to shifts has increased staff cover by about 20%. David Baines explained that officers are no longer working four days on, four days off on a twelve hour shift but are now working staggered shifts across five days that vary in length from eight to eleven hours, starting at different points in the day. The visibility of officers and insufficient numbers were two issues of concern raised during the latest police public meeting in East End. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Baines admitted that the service was still short staffed and he had faced a number of recruitment challenges. He said, however, that it was an issue he had been working on since he took up the post as commissioner but pointed out that he couldn’t just open a box and find police officers. The service had to either recruit experienced officers from overseas or train up new recruits and, he said, over the last year or so over forty people had passed through the police training programme and a number of experienced professionals from overseas were already in post and more were on their way.
Despite the problem with numbers, he said the change in shift patterns was making better use of existing police officers and giving management a larger pool of officers at the times when they were needed most. Baines noted that while the old shift system may have suited the officers, it was not conducive to serving the diverse needs of the public.
He said the different shifts also ensured there was no longer a single point in the morning and the evening when the shifts were handed over in Bodden Town, leaving the outer districts such as East End without police cover, as there was now an overlap.
Opposition MLA for East End, Arden McLean who was at the meeting held at the United Church Hall, pointed out that he had been pushing for many years to try and get a full compliment of police officers in East End and to keep the district sub-station open but he said he was disappointed that the district still seemed to be neglected, a sentiment that was shared by a number of people at the meeting. “People here believe that the police think East End is too far away, it’s too rural and insignificant,” he said. “But it is incumbent on the police service to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Baines said that the eastern districts were not ignored but he had to balance officers against the number of calls which were less from the east. He said the goal was to double the existing numbers of neighbourhood police officers across the islands as soon as the recruitment process allowed it, as he said the message coming through from the community is that people wanted a visible presence of local officers.
Answering the long standing and common complaint that officers drive through the district relatively regularly but they never get out and see what’s going on, Baines said he would ensure that the message was delivered to the district officers that they needed to walk about as well as drive around the area.
The small group of East Enders at the second of the series of ‘Have Your Say’ meetings delivered the same message to the commissioner as they have his three predecessors: that they would like to have a relationship with their local police. However, the barriers to that relationship included a lack of trust because of previous breaches of confidence and because they do not know the officers policing their district.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments (16)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Rorschach says:

    I think someone should explain the concept of "Quality over Quantity" to the Commissioner of Police…you can put 500 officers on the street, but if only 10% of them are actually willing to do the work, then what’s the point???


  2. Smigger says:

    I have recently been accepted by the RCIPS but after hearing what its really like I’ll be staying in the UK Police. No wonder the islands are going down hill rapidly

  3. Rockafellas says:

    A simple solution to the shift & crime situation Mr. Baines. Don’t change the shift hours sir, change individuals who are responsible or were on watch when the crime situation shifted. They are currently in charge, shift them that is exactly what needs to be shifted. So much said so little done by the inept. They wanted power but look at what this island has become and yet not one single person has been held accountable for their actions or should i say inaction.

  4. numbersguy says:

    For the record, I applied to be a volunteer officer with the RCIPS, I was initially contacted, I did the training, yet I have not heard a peep since.

    You would think that with the RCIPS being stretched thin, they would welcome the opportunity to have volunteer officers assist any way possible.

    Obviously not.


  5. Anonymous says:

    ‘Baines noted that while the old shift system may have suited the officers, it was not conducive to serving the diverse needs of the public.’

    Mr. Baines, how many times have we heard this from various police managers? The management will always talk of needing to ‘serve the diverse needs of the public,’ and when times are tough ‘making sacrifices.’ While the troops have to work this new shift pattern, at considerable detriment to their personal and family life, what will the management be doing, and what sacrifices will they be making? Well I can tell you what, absolutely bugger all, because while Gold Command are all tucked up in beds, enjoying their weekends off on the beach, and their 8.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday lifestyle, the only ones making the sacrifices will be the troops on the shifts. So much for leading by example.

    Cayman News Service I suggest you go and take a photograph of the GTPS between 8.00am to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday, and you will identify that there are no car parking spaces left, in-fact many cars are double parked. Then go back and take a photograph of the same car park any time out with those hours, and it is empty, its like the Mary Celeste. Its very easy to pontificate about the ‘needs of the public’ when you don’t actually have to make any sacrifices yourself, but that’s always the way, the people who create new shift patterns are never the ones that have to work them.

    Mr. Baines correctly identifies issues in the service in relation to lack of police numbers, which is directly related to officer retention problems, where experienced and skilled officers leave because of poor working conditions and management, and yet in the same breath he introduces a new shift pattern which will further erode working conditions, and contribute further to more good officers leaving the service, but that’s police management for you.

    • John Evans says:

      You can add Operation Tempura to the problems impacting officer retention.

      I’ve now lost track of the number of officers who I understand have left RCIPS since this expensive fiasco.

      It’s all very well talking about recruitment to make up the numbers but that cannot replace the experience that has been lost.

      Incidentally, don’t hold your breath waiting for the police sub-stations to open 24/7 because the trend in the UK is going in exactly the opposite direction.

      Where I live, just outside a fairly large market town, the Police Station (now called a Public Enquiry Office) is not manned 24/7, it’s only open to the public Tuesday-Friday and even then the doors are locked at 4pm. That’s in a rural catchment area with a population of around 76,000!

  6. Anon says:

    Commissioner Baines described some of his staff as ‘dead wood’ so it doesn’t matter if the dead wood is working for 12 hours or 8…… it’s still dead wood…… and no use to the community it serves. I think the expression is something like ‘we’ll re arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic’ 

  7. Anonymously says:

    Sir, we have enough officers, but are they equiped to deal with armed criminals. Please… let’s get away from "we need more pay" or " we need more officers." We have the man-power! But are you properly equiping them for the job?  Do they feel safe to respond to an incident without threat to their lives because you refuse to allow them to bear arms?

  8. Anonymous says:

    From what I understand from families of Police, its putting a terrible strain on the Police.  They are not getting enough rest.  They work all night for 5 days, then work for 5 days – that’s 10 days in a row with no time off.  Around 11 hours (sometimes much longer) per day.  Then they get a couple of days off.  Some have quit because they can’t take it, putting more strain on the rest.  This is what happens when the Govt. cuts the police budget in order to fight rising crime.  Great solution.  Pat on the back to those responsible. 

    With so much unemployment worldwide, its hard to believe we don’t have enough good police.  Oh I forgot, we don’t have any more money for the Police, we need that money for the new Minister and to continue to pay highly trained Govt. staff to stay at home for another year or three because current govt. officials are not professional enough to put aside their differences and work with these highly trained, experienced people. 

    Really, it just is unbelievable that we expect Officers to go to armed crime scenes with a baton.  No wonder the criminals can walk away from a crime scene.  I know if I was a Police Officer, there’s no way I would go to an armed crime without a gun.  They risk their lives when they do have a gun.  They are sitting targets without one. 

    So here’s a suggestion.  Make money avaialble to fight our biggest problem – crime.  Leave the 6th minister until the next election.  Take back the 3 highly qualified, professinals who you have suspended for no reason, to take up the slack.  One of these was the Deputy Financial Secretary.  She will have more experience that the Minister and her help will be invaluable – plus she’s already being paid.  We don’t have another $200,000 to $300,000 per year for another minister.  We need additional highly qualified, trained Police.  We also need a highly qualified person to train the existing police – someone with inner city or ghetto experience,  in gangs, armed crimes, etc. etc. A criminal with a gun will shoot at the Police rather than be arrested.  We have already seen this.  For goodness sake, someone somewhere do something before its too late.



  9. Anonymous says:

    LOL this is such rubbish! there are still only the same ammount of cars and equipment and now officers are being stretched even thinner… with more officers than ever working solo….


  10. Kent says:

    Well I must at this point commend Mr. Baines for attempting to do something to give the general public a feeling of higher security.

    I do want to ask how many police do we need?  Seriously, we have a great deal more per capita than England, the USA… We have no where for criminals to run and hide.  We have a public that wants to be involved and be proactive.  I do not personally see that more police is the answer we need.  That is simply throwing more money at an issue that is being mis-managed.  We do not need a more bloated government or police force, we need a both of them to be more efficient and focused.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is still worth a try though. Baines is trying to work with what he has… I’m all for a greater police presence. Don’t think the 4 days a week work cuts it anyway.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bull crap……maybe you need to be married to an officer in order to understand what is going on!!!!!   Baines do not want what is here…..wake up Cayman!!!

        • Kent says:

          Call me stupid, but what do you mean?

          • Kent says:

            how can you give this post a thumbs up or down, I simply didn’t understand the referenced post.

        • Walk a mile in our shoes says:

          I agree with this post.  I am the wife of a police officer and these shifts take a toll on not only the lives of of our husbands, but also our kids and our marriages.  The shifts are one thing but Baines does not mention that he reserves the right to summon an officer to work if he so wishes; and will do so even if the officer has just finished a tour of duty a few hours earlier.  

           A weekend getaway is next to impossible,when married to a police officer.  There is this carzy rule that on their days off they cannot simply fly to Miami etc; they must first get permission to leave the island.  Ladies don’t rush to marry a police officer in the RCIP it’s crazy. 

          Lunch hours rarely ever happen.  Not to mention crazy times like election, pirates week or let’s not forget Carifta.  I remember my spouse working some crazy hours during carifta weekend and also having to cover his regular duties. 

          Let’s not forget court appearances.  Days off are lost when officers have to appear in court.  Oh BTW they will be summoned for arrest if they do not appear.  So Baines it’s not just about the shifts. 

          There are times when you rely on your spouse to assist with childcare or to collect the kids from school and police work hinders this. 

          Dating is a joke.  If the Commissioner or some Inspector is not at last minute changing shifts or calling someone out to work, then the criminals harrass the heck out of you, while you try to enjoy an evening out. Most days after a tour of duty with the police my spouse can do nothing more than sleep.  When he’s coming i’m going and when he’s going i’m coming.

          I can’t count the countless times my spouse will be home and some Sgt or senior officer will call him to come in to bail someone or to handle some matter that could wait until his return to office.  RCIP dominates your personal life and the shifts are wrecking homes and marriages.  We should form a Police Wives/Spouses Association.  Since I have been married to my spouse and dating him every Commissioner that has taken over has made changes to the shifts and nothing changes except our spouses become more overworked.  When they’re tired and crash the police cars, the Commissioner charges them for careless driving and does so through public court, rather than looking internally and realizing that they are overworking their officers.