Senior cop reveals troubles at GTPS

| 15/08/2016 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

PC Cardiff Robinson (right) on police duty

(CNS): Chief Inspector Frank Owens told the court last week that he was forced to dismiss and transfer a number of police officers when he took over as the head of the George Town Police Station in 2011 and was faced with numerous challenges in the job. Giving evidence in a civil case brought by a junior officer accusing him of assault, Owens has denied bullying and abusing Cardiff Robinson but implied he had given the young officer a chance even though there were issues with his work at the time. Describing difficulties at the station when he took over, Owens felt he wasn’t popular with the police association because not only had he fired people, he had also arrested and charged some officers.

Owens painted a picture of himself as cleaning up a dysfunctional team of more than 50 officers. This included arresting and dismissing his own boss’s son from the RCIPS, whom he declined to name. He also claimed that threats had been made against him by some officers, who had complained to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Association.

Owens criticized PC Robinson and challenged his claim that he was an exemplary officer, saying that he had received complaints from the public, though he did not detail those complaints. Owens claimed that Robinson had been scared to walk the beat on his own in Windsor Park “in the middle of the day” because of threats. He also pointed to an assault charge Robinson faces for using his Taser during an arrest.

CI Owens repeatedly described the young officer as one of many troublesome officers that he believed were not doing their jobs at GTPS and suggested Robinson did not like being told what to do. He said the PC had a problem with authority but insisted he did not bully or humiliate the young officer.

Owens said he had no recollection of throwing the police log book in his face, which Robinson has claimed he did when he first met Owens after he arrived at GTPS. Another police officer, Michael Peart, has corroborated Robinson’s account of the incident, and while Owens fell short of accusing Peart of lying, he said that he had problems with him as well and that he Robinson were best friends.

As he defended his actions in regard to the second allegations of assault that Robinson has made, Owens said he was merely reprimanding an insubordinate officer and it was not a big deal. Owens said it was his job to ensure good discipline among the officers and ensure they were doing what they were told to do.

He said he believed Robinson was lying to him on that day and he described his own behavior as firm but fair admonishment, which the junior officer did not like. Owens suggested that Robinson was neglecting his patrol duties and was aggressive and unprofessional. But he denied being in Robinson’s face, or spraying him with spit and rejected any suggestion his actions went beyond what was necessary.

“I had questioned him with good reason and he was unhappy,” Owens told the court, adding that Robinson was trying to “hide his unprofessional and insubordinate attitude”.

The senior officer said he had a heavy workload and many other things to worry about, in the face of some serious crime in the capital. He referred frequently to the challenges and difficulties he faced at the GTPS and implied that it was down to officers who were either unable or unwilling to do their job.

But following Robinson’s allegations, the senior officer said he was not supported by the RCIPS and he was expected to “just smile and carry on” after he was instructed that he could not communicate directly with Robinson and had to issue orders through another senior officer, as he described Robinson as “running around as though he owned the place” in the wake of the allegations.

He said the accusations, the criminal investigation that followed, the internal probe and the legal action had an adverse impact on him and made what was an already a hard job running the largest police station even more difficult.

Owens said he failed to get a promotion he had applied for because of all the negative media publicity surrounding the allegations and then the law suit. As he defended his position, Owens said he resented the allegations made by Robinson and regarded them as false. He said the instructions that he was not to deal with Robinson were inappropriate but he was not allowed to question what was happening.

He said that he was not aware of any other officers in the RCIPS formally complaining about him being a bully. However, he said he was aware of threats made by some police association members because of the people he had sacked or transferred out. He told the court that there “was an agenda here” and this was the “kind of environment I had to work in”.

He claimed that as an overseas officer, everything he did was scrutinized and he would not behave in the way Robinson had alleged because he would risk his job. Owens claimed that because had arrested other police officers, something he said other police managers had not been prepared to do, he was a target.

He said he had arrested his superior officer’s son, who lost his job and was part of a criminal investigation. He also implied that there were other arrests and dismissals and numerous problems at GTPS over police officers not doing their jobs properly, with some officers being transferred out. Owens indicted that if Robinson had not applied for another position in a different department, he probably would have transferred him out as well.

The civil case, which is being heard by Justice Richard Williams, was adjourned Friday and is expected to resume next week with a further witnesses.

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