On the beat with Officer O’Connor

George Town waterfront has a new tourist attraction.

Officer Fabian O’Connor, known as the “dancing policeman,” is gaining plaudits for his animated style of directing traffic in the capital.

With unprecedented numbers of cruise ship passengers arriving in Grand Cayman, there were fears of traffic chaos.

But instead of complaints, officials are receiving only praise for their handling of the situation.

A big part of that is the white-gloved neighborhood officer, who can be seen patrolling the waterfront crosswalks, helping things run smoothly in his own unique way.

Now the only serious traffic jams are among the throngs of pedestrians lining up to have their picture taken with Officer O’Connor, who has become a mini celebrity in the town.

He said his philosophy is simple – safety first, entertainment second and respect for everyone at all times.

So far, it seems to be a hit, particularly with visitors.

“They appreciate what I am doing. All of them are my VIPs. They love to get the VIP treatment,” he said.

Officer O’Connor said he developed his extravagant style – somewhere between a dancer and a drill sergeant – as a way of encouraging visitors to move swiftly across the crosswalks in a non-confrontational manner.

He believes his clear directions, as well as his whistle and white gloves, help him communicate clearly with crowds, including many non-English speakers.

“Instead of shouting at them, you have to give them the action, a little flavor and a beautiful Cayman smile. They love it and they proceed with the instruction.”

He said he has been surprised by the extent of the positive response.

Frequently, tourists stop for a picture, and a video of him directing traffic went “viral” with more than 100,000 views on the internet.

“I met three persons from Canada that came on the cruise lines just to see me,” he said.

“They shake my hand and tell me they appreciate what I am doing.”

Sometimes the attention becomes counterproductive and he has to stop an overzealous tourist from walking into the road for a selfie with him. But he said he always does it with “love and respect.”

Passing motorists also seem to enjoy the officer’s style, which brings order and a touch of levity to a potentially testy atmosphere, as cars navigate through the town while thousands of tourists mill around.

Cruise passenger arrivals continue to surge in Cayman, with ships diverting from hurricane-hit islands in the eastern Caribbean. Last Tuesday alone, there were 18,000 visitors in the town.

While Officer O’Connor is happy to keep people entertained, he said his first role is to keep everyone safe and ensure the smooth flow of people and traffic.

It can be thirsty work at times in the heat of the day, but he would not swap it for any other role.

“I love it from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Officer O’Connor’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by business owners in the town.

Julie Allan, who runs Rackam’s Waterfront bar and grill and is a director on the current Cayman Islands Tourism Association board, said, “I’m so pleased and proud of the display and presence of the RCIP in George Town on our busy cruise ship days. I hope that Officer O’Connor continues his awesome CaymanKind welcome to our guests.”

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