The dragnet worked: The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service got their man – a “person of interest” in the investigation of a chilling homicide.
After days of uncertainty, Elemer “Elmer” Watler Wright appeared in Summary Court on Friday, charged with aggravated burglary in connection with a June 17, 2017 home invasion on Patrick’s Island. He was remanded to police custody. More charges may follow. Any further developments will play out in court.
It is important to remember that anyone accused of a crime must be considered innocent until (and unless) they plead or are proven guilty. Still, the people of Cayman can breathe a bit easier knowing that Mr. Wright, whom police described as “armed and dangerous,” had turned himself in.
Officers had been searching for Mr. Wright since late last month, but turned up the intensity of their search late Tuesday. Police say his appearance was “brought about through joint efforts of police officers, family members, his attorney and members of the community” – to whom they expressed their appreciation. The entire country feels the same way.
The peaceful apprehension of Mr. Wright more closely aligns with the “Cayman we know” than the territory that recently has been rocked by a chain of violent events – two armed robberies, a shoot-out with police and the fatal shooting of Dougmore Wright on Prospect Drive.
Many in the community have wondered what is happening to our beautiful and peaceful island. They worry that important values have eroded away. They have pointed fingers in every direction – blaming development, blaming population growth, blaming police.
As Friday’s developments showed, our country is not so far gone. It showed that a determined police force, working with the community, can help to keep Grand Cayman safe.
In recent weeks, the Compass editorial board has minced few words about the police service and law enforcement apparatus in general – particularly in regard to procedures, allocation of resources and the apparent failure to control petty crime and traffic offenses. Most of these policies are made in boardrooms and offices, not on the street and not by individual police officers working a beat or conducting investigations.
And, to be clear, no one can or should attempt to argue that police are to blame for serious criminal activity. Police may be many things, but they are not therapists, social workers or surrogate parents.
What police can do – and what they did do last week – is to collect evidence, follow leads and make arrests. After that, it’s largely up to lawyers, judges and juries to ensure that the innocent are exonerated and the guilty are convicted.
We do not know why some people prey on innocent neighbors, businesses and visitors. Like the average citizen, we do not understand the sort of mindset that is a prerequisite for choosing a criminal lifestyle. At the end of the day, when the handcuffs go “click” and the gavel drops, the only people responsible for crimes are those who commit them.
That does not mean the law-abiding majority of Cayman is helpless. When individuals, either through reckless or villainous disregard, tear at the threads of our social fabric, it can be repaired.
Law enforcement and the courts are the first responders, but as we saw last week – family, neighbors and other keen observers also have a role to play.
We might not be able to prevent everyone from committing crimes against our community. But by working together, we certainly can make it harder – and ensure they are brought to justice when they do.