On Friday 29 September, former Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne spent his last day in office as Chief Officer for the Office of the Commissioner of Police and Commissioner of Police (OCP) for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS). On the same day, the new Commissioner of Police, Kurt Walton, gave his oath to office and was formally appointed as Chief Officer and Commissioner by His Excellency Franz Manderson, Acting Governor.
Following Commissioner Walton’s appointment, the Acting Governor, His Excellency Franz Manderson stated, “On behalf of our Governor, the Cabinet and the Premier, and all the people of the Cayman Islands, we sincerely congratulate you on this most important appointment. We are delighted to have a Caymanian as head of the RCIPS, and we wish you every success.”
On Sunday, 1 October, the RCIPS held a Change of Command Ceremony to celebrate the achievements of their outgoing Commissioner of Police and to welcome and congratulate their new Commissioner of Police. The event, which was hosted by PC Jodi-Ann Powery, Police Media Officer with the OCP, featured highlights of the achievements of Commissioner Byrne over the seven years in which he was Commissioner of Police; specifically his efforts in modernising the Service. During his remarks Commissioner Byrne stated, “The achievements I made in the Cayman Islands within the seven years that I was Commissioner of Police, far surpassed the many years that I have spent and worked elsewhere. The Cayman Islands is fortunate to have resources and capabilities that other parts of the world do not and so development has proven to be far less difficult.”
He continued, “Working with Commissioner Walton over the years has allowed me to see the talent and capabilities that he has, and it will be exciting to see what new ideas he will bring to the organisation as Commissioner of Police. I know that he will excel and that the OCP is in excellent hands.”
Following his remarks, former Commissioner Byrne conducted the passing of the baton ceremony, where the baton – an RCIPS historical artifact which dates to 1952, was used as a symbol of passing on the responsibilities of the role from one Commissioner to another. The uniformed members of the Senior Command Team joined the Commissioners on stage to show their support.
A few remarks were said on the history of Commissioner Walton’s career as a police officer, which dates to December 1986. Following this, he spoke regarding his intentions as the new Chief Officer and Commissioner of Police. Additionally, he also spoke very candidly about the outgoing Commissioner stating, “Commissioner Byrne served his last day in office as the Commissioner of Police on Friday (29 September), and he could have taken a half day, as would have been his right, but he didn’t, he stayed the entire day completing the hand over process that we have been undertaking for the last few weeks now. His willingness to do what he can to make this transition process as smooth as possible for me, speaks to the kind of man he is and the leader that we have had for the last seven years. The Cayman Islands will always welcome you with open arms.”
Former Commissioner Byrne was then presented with a gift by Commissioner Walton on behalf of the OCP. The gift was an art piece that was specially created by artist Yonier Powery and entitled ‘Innovator’ for the OCP’s Innovator, Commissioner Byrne. It was designed using all recycled materials, most of which were taken from decommissioned boats and cars from the OCP fleet. The piece sported a man on a vehicle with lenses looking into the future and a Commissioner, made in the likeness of Commissioner Byrne, along with his cap badge that he’s worn over the past seven years. Following the ceremony, the attendees were invited to have breakfast and socialise. Here they took the opportunity to say their final goodbyes to former Commissioner Mr. Byrne and congratulate Commissioner Walton.