In separate public meetings with police in several districts, residents recited laundry lists of complaints against “motorbikers.” The alleged offenses range from speeding, to dangerous driving, to outright harassing visitors on the public beachside — with many motorbikers operating, apparently, in the absence of legal formalities such as license, insurance and registration.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller said his constituents have been trying for months to get the attention of police in regard to these matters.
Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks said it’s not so simple to arrest a motorbiker, even if he’s caught red-handed breaking the law. “The risk that we have is if people pursue them, and the unfortunate happens, we could be held liable,” he said.
In other words, police can’t just chase recklessly speeding motorbikers because someone might get hurt. Put another way, the very nature of the offense that is occurring (dangerous use of a motor vehicle) shields the offender from enforcement of the law that he is breaking. This is a paradigm in which it is the police, not the criminals, who wear the handcuffs.
As our story in Friday’s Compass notes, police have been wary of chasing motorists in general since Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson issued a judgment in 2013 in which he found the government financially liable for the death of a passenger in a car that crashed while attempting to flee from police.
Justice Henderson wrote, “The accident was contributed to, if not caused by, the speed at which [driver Alex Callan] was driving. He was doing so because a police car was chasing him. Had the pursuit been terminated, it is more probable than not that Mr. Callan would have slowed down to a normal speed so as to avoid attracting further police attention. The negligent factor to end the pursuit was one factor which contributed to the accident.”
Now, unfettered from fears of being apprehended and brought to justice, groups of motorbikers (most of them youthful in years) are doing whatever they want, wherever they want, however fast they want to do it – practically speaking, the higher the velocity, the better. All the rest of us can do, including the police apparently, is block our ears and divert our eyes.
We have a question: What happens, pray tell, when a masked gunman storms into a Cayman business, threatens or shoots a cashier, fills a sack with money and absconds on one of these high-powered motorbikes?
That is a common modus operandi among our Caribbean and regional neighbors. Will that become the way to commit a “perfect crime” in Cayman?
There are very good reasons for police officers to “make the call” not to engage in a high-speed pursuit in a particular situation, including, most prominently, concerns over the safety of innocents in the immediate area.
That choice is not unlike an officer determining whether or not to draw a weapon on an armed suspect in a public place. Currently in Cayman, our police cannot use their cars to pursue, nor do the vast majority of them have weapons to deploy in case of emergency. They can’t chase, and they can’t shoot — two restrictions that don’t apply to their criminal nemeses.
For now, it appears our options are limited to hoping Cayman’s population of wanton motorbikers does not begin to overlap with our population of violent criminals.