EDITORIAL – The societal danger of uncivil behavior

It’s not a long story, but it’s a large story.

A five-paragraph, 162-word article (“Driver flees police, crashes into traffic”) on the inside of Tuesday’s Compass encapsulates one of the broadest and most unwelcome trends threatening the societal tranquility of our beloved Cayman Islands.

Let us review the purported time line of the Sunday motor vehicle collisions (yes, plural) that injured two people. (Keep in mind that, at this point, the following are as-yet-unproven allegations but come from a police report):

A 28-year-old George Town man was driving while intoxicated

He was involved in a minor collision with another vehicle

Instead of stopping to deal with the consequences of his behavior, he reportedly left the scene of the accident

When police, with blue lights flashing, pursued the man, he did not stop his vehicle

Nor did he stop for a police roadblock set up in the area specifically to curb drunk driving and other anti-social activities in the eastern districts

Instead, (perhaps in a poor imitation of Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit” or James Mitchum in “Moonrunners”) the driver veered into oncoming traffic, where his car collided with another vehicle and then crashed into the bushes on the side of the road

The driver then emerged from the damaged vehicle and led police on a foot chase before he was finally apprehended.

Allegations of drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident, eluding police (twice), fleeing the scene of yet another accident, and again attempting to run from police. All on what should have been a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Each step of this alleged behavior is demarcated by a lack of regard for police, for public safety and for social norms.

The above is the most recent example of a disturbing spate of disrespectful behavior and outright attacks on Cayman police. Fleeing the scene of an accident, refusing to comply with (or physically resisting) police instructions has become troublingly common.

Earlier this month a man had the audacity to record himself berating, viciously and with inappropriate language, police officers at a checkpoint.

The video spread like wildfire on social media.

In May, two officers were viciously attacked by a suspect in a burglary arrest. In January, officers were attacked or injured three times in three days while arresting suspects.

Respect for police authority, and for one’s fellow man, is a cornerstone of a civil society. These anti-social behaviors are increasingly being displayed by young and old, from every walk of life.

It is evident in the hundred small incivilities we witness on our roadways every day, in the forms of aggressive driving, blatantly illegal motorbikes, shouted curses and blaring horns. We are witnessing a slow coarsening of our society, and we need to reverse it.

As humans, we each have within us the power to do good or to cause great harm, to choose actions that strengthen the social fabric or cause it to fray.

Unfortunately, it is our police, as first responders, who must deal with those who choose the latter. Current means and methods employed by the police, prosecutors and the courts are not keeping pace with the increasingly uncivil behavior we are witnessing.

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  1. Unfortunately uncivil behavior is rampant throughout the world. It’s how we deal with it that differs.

    This article caught my eye:

    I quote:
    Two men have been charged for starting a fire that ravaged over 2000 m² of forest in Provence in July this year…….The duo was taken into custody on August 16 and charged and imprisoned just one day later.

    Note a few salient facts from this article:

    1. In another similar case. The offenses were committed between May and August this year. YES THIS YEAR. And the perpetrator has ALREADY been sentenced to 15 years in jail!

    2. He got 15 years for starting a forest fire.

    3. Despite the fact that one must assume this fire was started in a wooded area, out of the sight of CCTV cameras they CAUGHT and PROSECUTED these people.

    Compare this to our own justice system that lets people stay out on bail, perhaps on full pay or locked up on remand, for years at a time.

    Can we all take a bet as to how long it will be before this particular miscreant faces justice?

  2. It is very troubling that there are those in our society who have little or no respect nor regard for law enforcement personnel. I wouldn’t be surprised if those concerned have taken a page out of New York City’s book. We have the same problem here. What can be done to curb this uncivil behavior? Who knows.? This I do know, it all stems from lawlessness and a total disregard for law and order.