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.