The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is considering fresh legal action against former government minister Frank McField for comments he made outside court Tuesday accusing an RCIPS officer of racism.
RCIPS Commissioner Stuart Kernohan issued a statement Wednesday defending the officer, who McField suggested was racist because he had previously served as an officer in South Africa.
‘To single out an officer and claim that because of the previous jurisdiction he worked in, his policing concept could be considered racist, is nothing more than ludicrous,’ he said. ‘Not only is it ludicrous, it may constitute an offence, and we are in consultation with the Legal Department and the Attorney General.’
The RCIPS did not state what legal action it is considering, but charging McField with defamation under the Penal Code would be one avenue.
McField was convicted Tuesday on counts of assaulting police, threatening violence, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He was arrested at a roadblock that was set up following a fatal accident on Shamrock Road in the early hours of 15 September, 2006.
Witnesses in the summary court trial said McField was drunk and had abused police and, after his arrest, threatened to kill the officers before kicking one and spitting in the other’s face.
The court heard he repeatedly accused the officers of being racist, and threatened to have them kicked off the island.
One of the arresting officers, who is now with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said in court he did not consider himself white and is of mixed parentage, while the other is South African.
‘The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service stresses that all serving officers adhere to the same high standards of policing, regardless of their nationalities or policing backgrounds,’ the Commissioner said.
‘A good officer is a good officer no matter where they come from. We stand by the officer singled out and give him our full support and backing.
‘It should be noted that during Mr. McField’s trial, not one witness testified to hearing any racist or obscene language from any of the officers involved.’
On Tuesday, McField’s attorney, Clyde Allen, asked that convictions not be recorded against McField, arguing the arrest that triggered the offences was trivial and that there were extenuating circumstances surrounding the arrest.
But Mr. Kernohan said McField’s crimes were far from trivial.
‘The court determined, as a matter of fact, that Mr. McField threatened to kill the police officers, kicked one and spat in another’s face. Police officers cannot be subjected to despicable behaviour such as this,’ Mr. Kernohan said.
He pointed out that the Crown had presented evidence that McField threatened to have the officers kicked off the Island; something McField himself agreed he had done in court.
‘Police officers must be protected from threats, assaults and intimidation such as this, in the same way the general public is. They must be allowed to carry out their duties without fear or favour,’ Mr. Kernohan said.
‘I want to make it clear that the hard working officers of the RCIPS will be protected. Anyone who obstructs police, threatens violence, assaults an officer or behaves in a disorderly manner will be arrested and brought before the courts.’
Mr. Kernohan pointed out that there has been a 32 per cent drop in serious crime in Cayman after McField claimed Tuesday that police should concentrate more on solving serious crime than on what people say.
Magistrate Grace Donalds ordered McField to pay fines of $2,300 following the verdict, but payment of the fines was stayed, after McField gave immediate notice of his intention to appeal the decision.
A date has not been set for the appeal but the former Minister for Community Services, Youth, Sports and Gender Affairs returns to court 12 March to face separate criminal charges of disorderly conduct and threatening violence stemming from an incident on the Harquail Bypass on 8 November, 2006.