EDITORIAL – Assaults on police officers must cease – now

George Town Police Station

Police officers are, as a rule, a tough group of men and women. They regularly put themselves in harm’s way – whether it means facing down armed suspects, conducting rescue operations in dangerous conditions, standing in busy roadways while diverting traffic from accident scenes, or a litany of other scenarios that definitely aren’t part of the job description for ordinary citizens.

And everything they do is for the purpose of making life safer for everyone else. Our police are rewarded for their efforts with relatively meager pay, long irregular hours and, too often, verbal calumny from prominent figures with personal or political motives.

That is also, in a way, part of the job. But while the members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are certainly able to withstand more than their fair share of abuse (as we said, they are a tough bunch), they certainly should not have to.

Through their actions and accomplishments over decades, our police officers have earned the community’s trust and admiration, and they deserve to be treated with respect and regard.

It’s a point worth reiterating in light of recent reports of officers being assaulted by suspects during encounters that seem as if they should have been relatively routine, yet somehow escalated into violence.

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Anytime a person punches, kicks, hits, slaps, bites, threatens or spits at an officer who is attempting to discharge his or her duty, it must be treated as a serious criminal matter. Our laws may need to be examined and, if necessary, fortified in this regard.

Similarly, it must be considered critical and criminal for suspects to run from police, either on foot or in a vehicle. Attempting to evade police puts lives at risk, including those of the suspects, the officers and members of the public who happen to be innocently standing by.

But more importantly, assaulting or fleeing from police demonstrates, to us, prima facie evidence of guilt. It shows utter contempt for the authority of law enforcement, and by extension, the legitimacy of Cayman’s societal and governmental structures.

(This is a primary reason why we have editorialized so strongly against “menacing motorbikers” who openly flout the law with their behavior: The hordes of obnoxious, illegal and unsafe motorbikers represent a massive contempt for public order and societal norms.)

Similarly, leaving the scene of a vehicular accident (“hit and run” in common parlance) should be elevated to the category of serious crime. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to associate these getaways with “sobering up time.”

It is more important than ever to support our police, when they are doing their jobs as uniformed officers of the law, considering the increasing hazards they seem to be facing as they confront and attempt to arrest suspects toting firearms.

Our police put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of the greater community. As members of the community, we should be expected to do our part to assist – that means being cooperative, being courteous and, if the situation calls for it, being willing to share reliable information, or to testify to the truth as witnesses in court.

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  1. I do not agree with people assaulting the police, this was unheard of back in the day. Many instances this will happen when people are under the influence of alcohol. There may still be a few thorns among the roses but the police now-a-days are showing more etiquette when dealing with the public in questioning.
    Looking back at some 45 years ago people feared and respected the police , the police would drape you up by your collar, lock you up and go home with the key, bang your head against the wall, take you for a drive and you come back singing like a bird. You just did not disrespect and assault police back then.
    I would say the police are very patient these days and we should try our best to work with them to make things better and for everyone to live in peace.

  2. 110% correct.

    It seems that disrespect for the (mostly) fine officers that make up the police force has become a worldwide issue, not just a Cayman one.

    And not just from the criminal element.

    Very easy for do-gooders to second guess what a police officer should have done from the comfort of their armchairs or computers. They weren’t there in that split second when some young thug pointed what is, or very much looked like, a firearm in their direction.

    We sadly all live in a world where society seems to be breaking down. While they can’t be everywhere our protection is the brave men and women in blue.

  3. Its a sad indication of the world in which we live today and it is universal.

    To address the rising problem in Cayman is to address some of the unique societal and cultural modes that bear influence on the situation.

    The first of those, imo, is that Cayman is a place that promotes individualism and ego above all else.

    Many people, too many people and some openly law-abiding citizens as well, think and act as if….the law is for everyone else but…ME; I am such a special person that exceptions should be made in MY case, despite any considerations of how other people are dealt with by the law in identical situations.

    There is really very little community or collective spirit within Cayman’s population; as diverse as it is, that might be expected but it is still a problem.

    Following along closely…is the ‘us vs them ‘ mentality that goes along with that.

    Also, Cayman’s elected politicians are curiously quiet when their constituents and their family members commit crimes and break the law but they are significantly vocal when they believe the police have got it wrong..or aren’t doing their job

    All of these elements breeds disrespect for law and order in general….and the public servants who are tasked to maintain law and order and enforce the law.

    Another aggravating factor is the easy access and high usage of alcohol and drugs, especially alcohol.

    In most of these recent assaults on police, alcohol has been a huge factor, going by the police reports….and in many cases, have been a factor but not reported.

    It is a very difficult and complex problem and there are no easy answers or quick solutions.

  4. I completely agree and would add that attacks on anyone performing a role in protecting the public – fire service staff, immigration / customs, emergency room staff, etc. deserve the same protection from thuggish, cowardly and loutish behaviour. Regardless of any involvement of alcohol or drugs, a custodial sentence must be imposed.