The public apology Monday by Royal Cayman Islands Police Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis for the late-night arrest of a West Bay woman for a $20 outstanding traffic ticket was the needed action given the circumstances.
To show up at a person’s home at 11.15pm on a Sunday night with four officers dressed in bullet-proof vests because of an unpaid ticket for a minor traffic offence was an inappropriate response.
Mr. Ennis asked for the public not to judge the RCIP on this single incident and promised new guidelines for enforcing warrants.
No longer will police officers turn up at the workplaces of those accused of minor offences to execute warrants, or go to their homes late at night. Serving warrants is not about embarrassing or humiliating people, Mr. Ennis said.
But serving warrants is about enforcing the law, and while the RCIP was over-zealous with that effort in the West Bay incident, we should all be thankful proactive steps are being taken to regain the level of law and order seen before on Grand Cayman.
It might only have been an unpaid traffic ticket for failing to display a road licence, but the law is the law and it must be followed by everyone. If someone is ticketed for an offence, they must pay the fine. Hurricane Ivan and a bad memory are no excuses.
Warrants for outstanding traffic fines are routinely issued and served all over the world. Often, people aren’t arrested until they are caught doing something illegal again, but only because of a lack of police resources.
Here in Cayman, where there has been too much minor law-breaking post-Ivan, we could use a good dose of discipline. If we ignore the law, we deserve to be penalised. Nothing breaks down law and order more quickly than a feeling of immunity from punishment for doing something illegal.
It is important, however, that the RCIP gives the appropriate response to fit the crime. We want our people to respect the police, not fear them.
It is also important that the RCIP enforce the laws evenly, showing no favouritism to the higher-ups or well-connected in our society.
Commissioner of Police Stuart Kernohan has said keeping law and order is a joint effort with the community. If the RCIP wants the community’s help, it must act with a firm but fair and reasonable hand.