Police officers in the Cayman Islands are tasked with the responsibility of fighting crime and tending to matters of civility, generally making sure that society is at rest and well protected, but who looks after them?
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Association is a non-profit limited liability company that was founded to represent members of the RCIPS from the rank of Cadet to Superintendent in all matters affecting their welfare and efficiency, excluding matters relating to discipline and promotion. The Association also exists to promote and maintain a high standard of ethics, conduct, skill and efficiency among members of the Association and to provide free legal advice and assistance to pursue claims for compensation for members who have sustained injury either on or off duty. In the case of members who have been killed either on or off duty the Association will provide advice and assistance to relatives or representatives.
The Association also avails officers of free legal advice and assistance if they have been charged or have reasonable grounds to feel they may be charged with a road traffic offence, which arose in the course of duty. These instances may include incidents which occur on the way to and from the place of duty. Members are offered these services provided that such advice or assistance is not in regard to an offence that involves alcohol or drugs prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Law, theft of a motor vehicle, taking and driving away a motor vehicle or travelling in a motor vehicle known or believed to be stolen.
Officers who are members of the Association are also eligible to receive a death benefit in a sum to be determined, which will go to the widow or dependent of a member who dies whilst in the service of the Royal Cayman Islands Police. Additionally, free legal and medical assistance are offered to pursue medical or pension appeals.
Formed in 1994, the Police Association was dormant for some years but has been reactivated under the latest police administration.
“It has now been taken to a new level. We are robust in ensuring fairness and the welfare of officers. It is the Association’s responsibility to make sure the officers are happy. We see about matters of advocacy for the officers, staff equality, transparency and forming/building better relationships between management and staff,” noted Police Association Legal Affair and Branch-A Chairperson Winsome Prendergast.
She added that there has been great improvement in the morale of officers.
“One of the issues that many of them weren’t satisfied with were the hours and shift pattern. However management and staff have come together to set new shift hours, which the staff has been a lot happier with,” said Prendergast.
The Police Association Seminar, scheduled to be an annual event, was held for the first time this year, where members of the Cayman Islands Police Association can address a host of issues regarding the police service, responsibilities and family life. Prendergast said it is hoped that this will continue.
“We are looking to continue having the seminar yearly but based on the low turnout the last time, we are revising how we can accomplish this in a more inclusive way.”
She pointed out that the Police Commissioner David Baines has also been working with the Police Association and Training Department to ensure that training needs and requirements have been addressed. The Police Association does not deal with matters of recruitment, promotion or discipline. However they look at aspects that lead up to this.
Other issues of concern for the Association include the reintroduction of a police canteen or meeting place.
“Usually the police have had a canteen or social club. However the building that we used to use was taken down to make way for the new government building. We were promised a new building but that has not happened, though the Association has been working on getting this done,” said Prendergast. She says, “We were trying to bid on the Farmer’s Market grounds but we were unsuccessful. We have been appealing to the government since, as the facility we have before served as a place for billiards, darts, dominoes. That was home. It was a platform for camaraderie. At the moment officers have no where to rest on their down time, no facilities to change or a canteen.”
Officers who are a part of the Police Association are not paid to do so and as part of their responsibility deal with a wide array of internal issues. Officers are all required to pay a membership fee of $25, which is used to pay for many of the services.