EDITORIAL – Hit and run: The latest assault on law enforcement

“Magic mirror, on the wall – who is the fairest one of all?”

Like the Evil Queen in the fairytale Snow White, when we reflect upon our society, often what we are actually doing is looking for an idealized vision of ourselves.

Without question, the Cayman Islands enjoys a plenitude of blessings, both natural and man-made – beautiful shores, tranquil waters, attractive structures, a general atmosphere of public safety, a kind and friendly people, etc.

But, as in every community, there exists below the surface a largely invisible stratum that includes an element of malefactors, wrongdoers and those who partake in antisocial behavior. Trust us, their mindset does not resemble anything we think of as “Caymanian.”

You could grow up and live in this country for years without ever being aware of the extent to which this type of person exists among us – unless you are a judge, police officer or a court reporter for the Cayman Compass. (In fact, our editors deliberately send young interns and new reporters to sit in on Summary Court proceedings so they have a more accurate understanding of the community they are charged with covering.)

But sometimes, the activities of this “unseen” element become so disruptive to the social order that they emerge from the shadows into the public consciousness and spotlight.

On the front page of Tuesday’s newspaper, we published a story about one such incident, in which a Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer was injured by a driver fleeing a police roadblock. The incident occurred late Saturday night along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, near Yacht Drive. The driver (who had a passenger) pulled his dark-colored sedan into the roadblock. The officer left his marked police car and attempted to speak to the driver and passenger, who did not respond. The officer moved to the front of the vehicle to check the license plate and then, according to an RCIPS statement: “The driver of the vehicle then drove off and struck the officer with the car, then sped off and broke through the roadblock entering into West Bay.”

Our immediate concern, of course, is with the health of the injured officer, who fortunately appears to be on the road to recovery after being discharged from the Cayman Islands Hospital.

However, on a societal level, this sort of pathological behavior does great damage to the public commonweal and how we think about ourselves as a people. We recognize that it is aberrant behavior and that it is not representative of ourselves individually or as a community. We recognize it as a foreign body, even a cancer, that has somehow invaded and disrupted our “Caymankind” tranquility.

It certainly is unwelcome evidence that in Cayman there is a person who (whether motivated by desperation, malice, sheer recklessness, etc.) proved capable of deliberately jeopardizing the life of a uniformed agent of law enforcement. Further, it is the latest and most heinous in a series of assaults on or displays of absolute disregard for Cayman police.

Who can forget last November’s humiliation of police (captured on video camera and posted on social media) by scores of motorbikers who “bypassed” a roadblock, weaving recklessly and taunting the officers who were attempting to apprehend them.

This dual degradation of the public’s respect for police, and the police’s relationship with the public, is an extremely troubling trend that if left unchecked, could and will erode the cultural cornerstone of law and order.

We do not always agree with or understand the strategies of police – for example, sanctioning this Sunday’s iteration of the motorbike rally that previously left them looking so inept – but we always support the mission of our police as an organization, and stand by our individual officers who discharge their duties with honor, integrity and professionalism.