November police car crash costs more than $18,000

Repairs to one of the new police Dodge Charger vehicles cost the government more than $18,000 following a two-vehicle crash in central George Town; the result of what police initially said was a suspected drink driving accident.

The wreck happened around 2pm on 1 November near the junction of Smith Road and Bobby Thompson Way. It involved the police car and Nissan van.

According to the initial Royal Cayman Islands Police Service news release on the incident: “A breath test was conducted on both drivers and the driver of the police vehicle was negative. The other driver provided a positive test and was arrested on suspicion of DUI.”

However, information obtained through Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law has revealed that the wreck turned out not to be a drink driving incident and that the police officer behind the wheel of the Dodge was at least partly at fault in the crash.

The Caymanian Compass’ open records request regarding the wreck uncovered that the department’s ruling on the cause of the wreck was “carelessness”.

No one ended up being ticketed or charged.

“It has been ruled that equal responsibility has been apportioned between both drivers,” according to information released to the Compass. “When the police vehicle was approaching the lights [on Smith Road], the lights on his side had turned red.”

According to the FOI release, warning letters were issued to both drivers involved in the accident. The investigation also determined the driver in the Nissan was not legally drunk.

“The other driver [not the police] tested positive for alcohol, but the reading showed that he was under the legal limit,” the police FOI response noted.

No one was charged in the accident. Police said the officer involved in the crash was responding to a call to assist another officer when the wreck happened.

The police car was eventually repaired at a cost of $18,432 and went back into service.

Commenting on the subject of police patrol car crashes, RCIPS Chief Superintendent John Jones has said the frequency police-involved car accidents is not a major issue.

“Injury accidents, particularly those involving members of the public where the police are at fault, are a very uncommon occurrence,” Mr. Jones said. “Obviously, we are concerned when any police vehicle is involved in a road accident and it is policy that all are investigated thoroughly.

“The frequency of accidents is not seen as a problem, given the mileage covered and nature of policing.”

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