EDITORIAL – Stopping rogue motorbikers in the name of the law

Dirt bikes were stolen from this enclosure behind the George Town Police Station. - PHOTO: MATT LAMERS

When the police tell you to stop, you stop. Period.

It’s not a request. It’s an order.

Last Thursday night, 20-year-old Roger Johann Wood chose to ignore that order, and tonight, and perhaps for many nights to come, he is in a Miami hospital receiving treatment for a broken back and other serious injuries he sustained after leading police on a high-speed chase.

Readers will recall that police, immediately after receiving a report of an attempted armed robbery at the Smugglers Rum Bar in downtown George Town, spotted Mr. Wood in the vicinity speeding on an unlicensed, uninsured motorbike without headlights or taillights. They signaled for him to pull over, but instead, he decided to run for it.

He led patrol cars and the police helicopter on a harrowing chase up West Bay Road, taking a right turn at Governors Square. He then entered the wrong carriageway of the Esterley Tibbetts highway, heading into oncoming traffic. Eventually, he reversed himself and continued past the landfill, through Industrial Park, around the airport before heading east to the Chrissie Tomlinson roundabout (near Lantern Point) where he collided with a police car.

Several days later, police issued a statement concluding that Mr. Wood had not been involved in the attempted robbery, although at the time of the chase, police had every reason to suspect he was.

Let us be clear: the person who bears the burden of responsibility for the accident is Mr. Wood himself. No one else. The police had every reason to suspect that Mr. Wood may have been involved in the attempted armed robbery, and when he fled, they had every reason — in fact they had a duty — to chase him.

From a broader standpoint, what we find increasingly disturbing is that, once again, some highly irresponsible people are using this incident to erode public respect for law enforcement. They are aided and abetted by incendiary talk on morning radio shows, and irresponsible commentary (almost always anonymous) in other media.

This anti-authority, anti-police message is developing into a dangerous pattern for our country.

The case of Mr. Wood should serve as a lesson — not for police, but for the country’s rogue motorbikers who have grown comfortable taking risks with their own lives — and ours.

Illegal motorbiking has grown to be one of the most easily identifiable and brazen categories of crime in Cayman. The pinnacle of this may be the two separate thefts at the George Town police station where criminals “de-confiscated” their motorbikes from the evidence yard.

Increasingly, in Cayman and other jurisdictions, these vehicles are being used in the commission of serious crimes. Readers will remember the armed robbery of the jewelry store in Camana Bay where the robbers made their escape aboard one of these motorbikes.

Certainly, every commuter in Cayman regularly encounters these antisocial hooligans, driving threateningly, dangerously and illegally. It’s time for police to get them, and their illegal vehicles, off our streets.

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  1. “Stopping rogue mote bikers in the Name of the Law” I have read many editorial in this media, and this is one of the best laid out. It is about time someone speak up in the right way and stand behind the police when they are doing their job in a perfect way, instead of letting politicians and radio talk shows make mountains out of mole hills on the morning shows. Police says stop, it means “STOP PERIOD” whether we like it or not; and politicians need to stop interfering into police business . It has always been something happening for ages, the first thing happens it that people want to run to politicians to bail them out on a political platform when they are wrong. We need to stop it , and I am not taking up for the police, because when I feel they are wrong, I will express it without favor.
    It is very sad that such a thing had to take place with this young man, but come on folks, “STOP SIGNALS” by police means exactly what it says “STOP” and I believe the public is expecting the police and those in authority who can call the shots, do something NOW, about these illegal bikes on the roads day and nights. Most of all the police need to step up their vigilance when they are called about the bikes being seen on the roads, not waiting until an hour later to go look for them. We are looking for vigilance from the police and you will have our support.

  2. Let the other side speak. Find out why the owners won’t register them.
    Reach out to dirt bike riders in a meaningful way.
    Develop a range of monitored recreational amenities for this large segment of young people. Even if a dirt-bike park doesn’t solve the problem entirely, it would change the current situation.
    The perception that dirt bikes are all stolen, that they are used for criminal activity is just what it is, just a perception, not the fact.