Something Rotten in the State of Cayman…

| 17/04/2013

“May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese curse, bestowed in the most inscrutable and understated manner in which the Chinese excel. In the case of the Cayman Islands, and for that matter the wider world, we are indeed living in interesting times. Here in Cayman, the former premier McKeeva Bush is most certainly living in interesting times, and one suspects that others may well be keeping a wary eye over their shoulder, lest their times become equally as interesting.

Many may be applauding the work done by RCIPS and, if rumour be believed, others in bringing about this state of affairs, but what of the Custodians themselves? Are their affairs in order, or are they also about to find themselves “Living in interesting times”?

This question begs asking because of the growing number of issues being highlighted by media, public and the Custodians themselves. As has already been highlighted in recent media publications, there is the ever rumbling issues surrounding Operation Tempura, the more recent case of the demoted inspector, and the as yet unresolved case of the junior officer alleging an assault against himself by a more senior officer. These three issues alone would suffice to bring about immense scrutiny of the Custodians in any other democratic society, but they are in effect only the tip of a very large iceberg.

There is the matter of the Police Law, gazetted in 2010, which makes requirements of the Custodians to put in place ‘rules of practice and conduct’ which would govern how they interact with the public they serve. These ‘rules’ have yet to make an appearance over two years down the line. As a result, cases will come before the Grand Court under the Bill of Rights questioning the treatment that persons have had from the Custodians. One can only wonder how this correlates with the UK, who coincidentally are signatories to a European Code of Police Ethics, and are required to abide by a very strict set of rules under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Could it be that these are merely unfortunate coincidences? Events that conspire to happen within a fairly short time period. Or is there something more insidious lurking beneath the smart uniformed exterior?

If one takes the time to speak to some of the many officers who take on the mantle of Custodian of the Peace, one rapidly realises that there are three distinctcultures thriving and striving within the service. There are the local Caymanian officers, many of whom feel let down and neglected by a service that sees them as a necessity, occasionally promoting one or two into positions of prominence to appear supportive and egalitarian. There are the officers from the other Caribbean jurisdictions, mainly Jamaica, who seem to suffer the brunt of the ‘strangers in a strange land' jibes from both Caymanian and British expat officers.

Finally, there are the British ex-pat officers, who themselves are a bit of a mixed bunch. There are those who have come to work hard and make a life for themselves (many of whom also suffer the same jibes as the Jamaican officers), those who view the job as an extended holiday in the sun with the added bonus of ticking that box in the CV, and those that have come to build their own little empires in the sun. The common trait amongst these is the general arrogance unique to the British of “Knowing what is best”.

This ‘three cultured nightmare’ is at the heart of what ails our Custodians. A continuous clash of culture and political brinkmanship played out within an organisation that should work as a team.

The most insidious and dangerous of these groups are the ‘Empire Builders’. Many of whom have come with a policing attitude born out of the 1970’s and 80’s in the United Kingdom; hierarchical, authoritarian and motivated to build their empire into their own image, with scant regard to the vibrant local culture and traditions because, after all, they “know what’s best”. These are the people who seem to be pulling strings and manipulating people and events to suit their own ends, and in so doing, are spreading disenfranchisement and disenchantment amongst our Custodians.

With election fever about to break out large here in Cayman, and with the very real prospect of new faces in the Legislative Assembly, perhaps the one question that should be being asked by all and sundry is “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?" Or, as the English might say, “Who watches the watchmen?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    in my opinion and forgive the political incorrectness:,

    rcips like the rest of the civil service is a shambles because of the number of locals employed…..

    we will only be able to move forward when we can have an honest open debate regarding the limitations of the local workforce, education standards, work ethic…..etc……

    • Anonymous says:

      RCIPS is a shambles because of the leadership which is not "local". What you call "political incorrectness" is racism, pure and simple. A minority of the police service is "local". 

  2. Anonymous says:

    I find generalisations based upon race to be disgusting because its racism. I have thought to myself over the years that the common trait amongst white Jamaicans to show disdain for the British and practice a form of capitalism so severe in its chase for profit at the expense of dignity for the poor explains Jamaicas ills – those are who we should be wary of when it comes ti empire building within our islands. I have kept these thoughts to myself because I accept that generalisations like those offered in this article are probably nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      Derogatory generalisations are made about Caymanians on here all the time by expats and they often garner many thumbs up and few condemnations by expats.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The whole truth of the matter is that a large percentage of the Police within the RCIPS is very demoralized, and lack of motivation!  And I am not talking those ones that are just in there for a “pay cheque” or other reasons than that of serving the people lawful and dutifully! Which we very well know exist; it is true that a house that is divided among itself cannot stand! When this Commissioner came here he made his intention know from the outset!

    The first thing he did was to constrain all regular Officers to public humiliation by ordering them to doing a “Drug Test” that was not viewed well in the Public’s eyes! He subjugate the hierarchy within the service to “Polygraph– Lie Detector” test;  additional to that he made request to the Government a total number of Officers from Europe that would replace almost a third of the serving Police Officers! He hurriedly amended the Police law 2010 and made regulation and rules that would validate and substantiate his motives in which he usurps vehemently shielding behind the very anarchy rules he concocted!

    These powers that he assumes or endowed himself with allows him to continue waving his big stick of intimidation over his flock or in other words “MY Men” as he terms them; and to a larger extent his stewards which is the Citizen of these Islands! The entire Police Service is afraid of this man, you just want to catch them one a way and have a conversation with them and you can see that a lot is going on within the service, some people do not care anymore and is just waiting for their time to come, and what happen, happens! Some even refer to this man as a “little god’ who XXX does what he please without any consideration of who likes it or how they feel about it!

    There are cases where the Commissioner uses only his power he gave to himself, in the Police law that he amend to fire person on the basis of only his opinion! The prominent claws is; “In his opinion the retention of a Police Officer’s service may not be in the best interest of the Public” without any report of knowledgeably grievance complaint or any breach of responsibility or service;  and no health or mental reason that would make this action lawful! Some Officers are fired after serving for 12 years and upward; who has proof of outstanding service and contribution made to respective communities!

    This approach is like a one brush paints all, one months’ notice pay and you are out losing everything you work for as benefits! How can that allow happening here in what we would consider a civilized country promoting human rights and human wellbeing? 


    You know what our problem is? There is a common idiom to this effect; “the bad person prevail when the Good do nothing” We only see or talk about a matter when it immediately affect us, even though doing nothing when it affects other people can caused collateral damages that eventually affects us, but how we are! We show no care, consideration or mercy to others; I am attempting to say “fellowmen” which is a thing of the pass! It is also said, that one shall chase a thousand but two can put it to flight!

    We need to be our brother’s keeper and in so doing heaps coals of fire upon our heads and maybe, just maybe we would not have to suffer the same fate as they who suffered before! A word for the wise lets us try and do something and more so make it be the right thing, “be justified” by you doings! For it might take a long time before it happens and when it does it could be your children’s, children who suffers from what did or did not do! A leaf that falls into water takes some time to deterioration…. Things just don’t happen! It culminates…..Think about it!

  4. Rorschach says:

    Who watches the watchmen, indeed..?  I have in the past and will continue to be very vocal in my call for the RCIPS leadership to step up and actually lead..and like you, I speak to the rank and file officers freqeuntly to guage the pulse of the organization..what I hear is not good..there is no cohesion..there is no organization..there is no leadership…you have officers leading shifts that have barely any local have officers with literally decades of service and knowledge being relegated to menial and degrading have a very small clique of very high level senior officers who sit in council and make decisions relevant to all levels of policing , who never leave the office…you have the CoP who sits on his hands and idles away time and yet still refuses to establish the Anti Corruption committee on the excuse that is "Costs too much"..there hasn't been a Professional Standards unit investigation of a public complaint against a police officer in over two years…the CoP still has not given a satisfactory explanation with regard to his alleged financial interests in a local security company or a local marine service company…nor has he publicly acknowledged his familial connections to other very senior officers that were hired since he took office..and who now are seemingly to be in charge of the day to day running of the RCIPS..  leadership starts from the top cannot expect the lowest level officers to respect the public when they don't even respect their own commissioner..the public deserve better…

  5. DanDan says:

    Amen to that!! I wholehearteldy agree that our 'custodians' leave a lot to be desired when it comes to abiding by and upholding the law.

    It's interesting to note as well that they can never seem to get much right. At the beginning of the year they stated that according to statistics crime was down and damn near under control. Yet as recent as a month ago we found out that crime was where we all knew it was which is pretty damn bad for having so many 'custodians' on this little island. An island where everyone knows all the 'hot spots' and most of the people involved at these sopts.

    Our police can't figure out how to get anything done right as a cohesive unit. The Commissioner I've realised is doing his outmost best to take us back to the days when we the people were not privy to what was going on in regards to crime.

    So instead of presenting the real facts and real solutons to handle the problem we just get hot steam.


    • Anonymous says:

      "….general arrogance unique to the British of "knowing what is best" ". "Unique to the British?  Unique? You mean they are the only arrogant people in our troubled world? No room for Americans, Europeans or……Caymanians? There is a lot of reasonable comment in your viewpoint but  assigning arrogance "uniquely" to the British seems silly and gratuitous.

      • Calico Jack says:

        Once you have lived with the British you will find that the 'Uniqueness' of their arrogance in the terms described is quite accurate. With them it is an arrogance born of time and continuous reinforcement that they are the best at what they do. 'The best police service in the world', 'the best Armed Forces in the world', 'The mother of parliaments, and hence, the best democracy in the world'……I could go on, but you really need to immerse yourself in the British culture and then come to a place like Cayman to fully appreciate the point.   Yes there are arrogant Americans, Canadians, Europeans, but it is fairly unique to the British just haw deeply ingrained their belief in being the best is………

        • Anonymous says:

          So what was originally " unique" is now " fairly unique…. "  Nonetheless, your unrealistic generalisation about 65m people, the vast majority of whom you do not know, remains an unrealistic generalisation. 

          • Anonymous says:

            No I lived there, its very real

            • Anonymous says:

              Maybe you did, but how many Brits did you know? Even if every one that you knew exhibited the arrogance to which you refer, you would still not be in a position to generalise about the other 64,999,000 or so of them. To do so is a reflection of prejudice, not knowledge. 

              • Anonymous says:

                this article's racism is awesome, right from the 'inscrutable' Chinese onwards.

              • Anonymous says:

                Yet you generalise about Caymanians all  the time. 

                • Anonymous says:

                  You do realise that " Anonymous " is not a real name, right?


                  Since you have no idea which anonymous I am, nor if I have ever posted before on CNS,  the " you " in your comment is also unrealistically general.



        • Anonymous says:

          So, Calico Jack, you have never heard American politicians and media commentators and others -including American men and women in the street – say that the USA is the best country in the world, best armed services, best system of government, best and freest country in the world etc etc? On a lighter note, the "World Series" baseball competition contains only American teams, for heaven's sake!!

          And I suppose you have never heard Caymanians say we are living in Paradise, the best country in the world, the most beautiful etc etc with at one time the best seamen in the world??? Have you listened to Ezzard over the last 20 years? Come on, lighten up, and admit you overstretched a point with that ill considered naive remark. Most countries betray the sort of arrogance you refer to- including Britain and the others mentioned in these posts. And have you listened to Jamaicans talking about their athletes, their culture, the beauty of Jamaica, its cooking and comparing their country favourably to Cayman, which many of them refer toprivately as a piece of two by four? It's a human failing, not "unique" to Britain.

          • Anonymous says:

            "…"World Series" baseball competition contains only American teams…"


            Not true. The Toronto Blue Jays are a Canadian team, eh.

            • Anonymous says:

              So sorry, 7:35, you are quite right there, eh? Go Jays Go. But my point remains valid -they are something of a one team anomaly, albeit twice winners under the great Cito Gaston.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can't comment on the personalities of the 65 million British…but I can tell from your writing that you are a complete arse.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don't let your unique British/American/European/Caymanian sensibilities distract you from a very valid point…

      • Anon says:

        Genuine arrogance is unique to the British.  We have, after all, a lot to be arrogant about!