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.
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.