Snr cop under investigation
(CNS): A senior officer of the RCIPS is currently facing an internal enquiry after the director of public prosecutions (DPP) ruled that it was not in the public interest to pursue a criminal prosecution against him in connection with an alleged assault on a junior officer. The Police Association has raised its concerns about the internal enquiry as they have questioned who in police management is not already conflicted or compromised in connection with the case and in a position to fairly oversee the investigation. More than a dozen complaints have been made to the association against the same senior officer, who has not been suspended from duty and currently remains in charge of one of the largest group of officers in the RCIPS.
A spokesperson for the RCIPS has confirmed that the file in connection with the case is now with the Professional Standards Unit and as a result, she said, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment on the issue. The RCIPS also stated that the case had been referred to the DPP but that it had been returned to the police to handle internally.
Sources close to the young police officer who filed the complaint told CNS that the victim has been informed that, despite evidence of the assault, it was not in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges. The junior officer is understood to have filed complaints relating to two alleged incidents, one of which was witnessed by several civilians who had reportedly agreed to give evidence. Other sources have told CNS that the senior officer routinely behaves inappropriately but many police officers on contract are reluctant to file official complaints for fear of losing their jobs.
A spokesperson for the police association, which represents the interests of serving officers, told CNS that there were a number of concerns about this particular case, not least the number of complaints against the senior officer in question, who remained in command of one of the largest group of officers in the service.
In addition, the association has said that any internal investigation needs to be seen to be fair to both the victim and the accused, but given public comments made by the police commissioner during a Finance Committee hearing about this case and other conflicts relating to police management, it is difficult to see how it can be fair to either of the officers involved.
The spokesperson said the association had raised its concerns with the commissioner and pointed out that the wider membership already has issues about the levels of inequality within the service. He stated that this case should have provided the commissioner with an opportunity to demonstrate the equality that he has said he is committed to providing, but there are very serious doubts that he will be able to deliver.
“Our wider membership has been concerned for some time about the inequality that exits in the RCIPS when it comes to the treatment of some officers over others,” the association told CNS. “We do not know exactly why the DPP decided that it was not in the public interest to pursue this case and return it to the RCIPS to be handled internally but we know that police management is compromised in this case. We are very concerned that there will be no one who will be in a position to supervise this investigation fairly.”
Local attorney Peter Polack also raised concerns about how this case was being handled. He said if there was evidence of a crime the DPP should have handled the assault as she would any other criminal charge and it should not be treated differently because the accused person is a senior police officer.
"The DPP is charged with the responsibility of deciding whether a person is to be charged with a crime or not,” the local attorney stated. “It is an excess of her authority to make this ruling if this is the case as it is effectively deciding punishment, which is the exclusive purview of the courts. Only Commissioner Baines has the authority to decide if an officer is to face an internal disciplinary hearing.
"It would be a breach of her Constitutional duties to suggest a course of action outside her power or delay ruling on a pending case, for that matter,” Polack added, referring to the DPP’s alleged recommendation to the commissioner that the matter be dealt with internally.
“If a senior police officer can benefit from the discretion of the DPP, then every citizen of the Cayman Islands is equally entitled, including those presently residing at HMP Northward, to the same treatment,” he added.
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