Few things in life are as simple as “good guys” versus “bad guys.” That includes the often complex struggle to achieve law and order in society.
However, in its purest form, the conflict between the police as an institution and crime as a phenomenon has only two dimensions. We know whose side we’re on (and we’re proud to declare so publicly) — the police. As for the allegiance of our legislators … well, they’ve been more reticent than declarative.
At minimum, the deficiency of our leaders’ support for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, particularly as our country seems to be experiencing an increase in sensational violent crime, sends an extremely troubling message of which our resident population should take heed, and which our foreign investors and visitors will surely take notice.
Recall the uproar from independent and opposition lawmakers when the majority government refused to attend an emergency meeting they had called on April 13 in order to criticize police management and actions. With only eight minority members present out of the 18 MLAs, they simply did not have the numbers needed to constitute a quorum and hold the meeting. (Those topics have been picked up in a session of the Legislative Assembly that started Monday.)
Next, consider the RCIPS Outstanding Service Awards event held Saturday evening. The purpose of the annual event is twofold: to honor the “best of the best” from the rank-and-file of the police service; and to raise money for the Police Welfare Fund, which goes to assist RCIPS members and their families in case of tragedies such as injury, illness or death in the line of duty.
Remember, the event has little to do with Police Commissioner David Baines or top RCIPS management, and has everything to do with recognizing courage, sacrifice and selflessness by those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring the safety of Cayman’s public.
Yet, when it came time to “establish protocol,” the list of elected dignitaries in attendance was shamefully short — not even close to a quorum.
Out of the 18 MLAs, only two — two — were there to support our brave men and women in uniform. Those were, for the record, Premier Alden McLaughlin and George Town MLA Joey Hew.
Here’s who didn’t show up:
- Minister Marco Archer
- Minister Osbourne Bodden
- West Bay MLA Bernie Bush
- Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush
- George Town MLA Winston Connolly
- West Bay MLA Eugene Ebanks
- Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden
- Minister Moses Kirkconnell
- East End MLA Arden McLean
- George Town MLA Roy McTaggart
- North Side MLA Ezzard Miller
- House Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly
- Minister Wayne Panton
- Minister Tara Rivers
- Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo
- Minister Kurt Tibbetts
On lawmakers’ calendars, the RCIPS gala should rank among the most significant public events of the year. After all, these police officers are the very people charged with ensuring the safety of our islands (still one of Cayman’s most desirable attributes) and enforcing the laws that our legislators create.
(For those MLAs who may protest they had legitimate reasons and were simply unable to attend, we will be pleased to publish any explanatory excuses they wish to offer their constituents.)
In the meantime, let us present you with Shaquille O’Neal.
No, the former NBA star was not in the audience at the RCIPS event Saturday night. At least not in person. But “Shaq,” who is a well-known supporter of police officers in the U.S., and now Cayman, did take time to record a video of himself issuing a mea culpa for his absence. (His reason: His job as a national NBA analyst requires him to work from an Atlanta TV studio during the ongoing NBA playoffs.) Mr. O’Neal also donated two autographed basketballs, which raised about $2,500 at auction to benefit the Police Welfare Fund.
An American celebrity with no direct connection to the RCIPS except for his sense of professional respect, Mr. O’Neal put forth more effort on behalf of our police service Saturday night than did 16 of Cayman’s elected lawmakers. That fact speaks volumes.
For the sake of Cayman’s future as a viable society, it behooves our MLAs to raise their own volume, and to proclaim in a single stentorian voice that they do support our police and that they do esteem public safety above politics and personalities.