Members of the Cayman Islands Police Association said Friday they are becoming extremely concerned about the safety and security of police officers in the wake of two recent “acts of violence perpetrated against [officers]”.
The latest incident involved at least one armed suspect shooting in the direction of Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers at the end of a pursuit in a crowded George Town apartment complex around 8pm on Thursday.
No one was injured in that incident. However, an RCIPS Uniform Support Group officer wasn’t so lucky on 23 March during a crowd control assignment where a rock had apparently been hurled at him – striking his head and sending him to the hospital with a fractured skull.
“The police association condemns these acts of violence against our officers who put their lives at risk daily to ensure communities are safe and are imploring our citizens to stand strong and collective against these types of deviant behaviours to ensure your families, visitors and investors can continue to live and do business in a safe and peaceful community without the fear of personal injury,” a statement from association President Rudolph Gordon said.
“The association is asking our citizens to take personal responsibility in helping to eradicate what appears to be an emerging hostile environment toward law enforcement and reminds the community that this type of behaviour is what destroyed the peace and tranquillity in other jurisdictions.”
The police association asks the community to remember that police officers are chosen from the same society as everyone else who lives in the Cayman Islands.
“This places them at greater risk and requires community efforts to ensure [officers] are safe and treated respectfully,” the statement read.
By press time Monday, local police had arrested and released on bail four people in connection with Thursday’s shooting incident at the Lakeside Villas complex. One arrest was made following a police operation early Friday in the George Town area; another was made near the Lakeside property shortly after the Thursday evening shots fired call. Both suspects, ages 22 and 29, were taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder and firearms offences but have been released on police bail while the investigation continues.
In addition, a man aged 22 and a woman aged 29 years were arrested on Friday 12 April in connection with the incident. They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defeat justice and they too have been released on police bail while the investigation continues.
According to a police statement, officers in a marked patrol vehicle were driving behind a Ford Explorer SUV that was headed south on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway when the Ford suddenly sped off, turning into Lakeside.
The police car followed the SUV until it crashed into a fence a short while later. Four people inside the Ford ran from the vehicle after the crash and, as they tried to get away, shots were fired, police said. Officers did not say whether they recovered the weapon used in the incident.
The owner of the Explorer parked it at the Camana Bay open car park at approximately 6.50pm on Thursday, 11 April. The vehicle was removed approximately one hour later at around 7.50pm.
“Officers are maintaining a presence in the Lakeside area, not only to obtain witness statements, but to reassure the resident and address and welfare concerns,” the RCIPS statement issued late Thursday read.
During the 23 March incident where an officer was wounded, police had been called to the scene near the Pirates Cove bar in East End a few hours earlier on Friday evening, 22 March, having received reports of tyres being burned and illegal drug use in the area.
Police officers said a party was in progress at the location, with more than 100 people in attendance. Officers checked out the situation, then returned to their patrol car only to find their front tyres had been punctured.
Armed officers were deployed to the scene and it was in the same general area where the armed patrolman was struck in the head when a rock was hurled from the crowd.