RCIPS to investigate officer in dirt-bike arrest

Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne said a “discipline investigation” would be carried out into the actions of one of his officers during the arrest of a dirt biker in April.

His comments follow a report into the incident by Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston, which was released earlier this week. She recommended that the commissioner should consider disciplinary action against the officer, who used a baton to strike the leg of the biker who had been pulled from his dirt bike by another officer following a 72-minute pursuit.

The same officer who wielded the baton also shouted at a woman who was recording the encounter and threatened her with arrest, Hermiston stated in her report.

In this screengrab from one of the videos shot by bystanders, the dirt biker can be seen speeding down a residential neighbourhood in Savannah on 4 April.

Byrne said in a statement issued Wednesday evening, “I am in receipt of a very comprehensive and thorough review report prepared by the Ombudsman … following an Ombudsman-initiated public interest investigation into an RCIPS vehicle pursuit that took place on Saturday 4th April 2020.

“In that report, the Ombudsman makes a number of recommendations, which I have accepted. In the report from the Ombudsman, it is recommended that a discipline investigation should be initiated against one officer for his actions at the scene of the arrest of one of the offenders, and that a number of policies should be reviewed, updated or introduced.

“All of the recommendations made by the Ombudsman have been accepted and tasked to a Deputy Commissioner for necessary attention and report.”

The Ombudsman launched the investigation after footage of police chasing and stopping the dirt biker was widely posted on social media. The 23-year-old biker, from Bodden Town, was subsequently charged with breaking curfew, as well as several road offences.

Hermiston made the following recommendations in her report:

  • The police commissioner should consider disciplining the officer over the use of a baton and his unprofessional conduct in his interactions with the woman at the scene.
  • The RCIPS pursuit policy should be updated and implemented as soon as possible.
  • A debrief of all officers involved should occur to review this incident and learn from it.
  • Critical-incident managers should receive direction with respect to their roles in future pursuits.
  • The police commissioner should clarify for all officers whether it is ever permissible for off-duty officers to involve themselves in pursuits using private vehicles.

A press release issued by the Ombudsman about her report can be read here.

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  1. It’s easy for people to sit behind their desks, coffee cup in hand, and pontificate on whether a particular police officer hit some young thug too hard.

    Real life isn’t like that and they weren’t the ones trying to stop these 7 selfish motorcyclists from terrorizing a quiet residential neighborhood.

    The police were chasing them for over an hour. Tempers were without doubt frayed.

    A better question would be: Why did the other 6 get away when they were in plain sight? Was is because other police officers didn’t pull them from their bikes out of fear of this sort of criticism?

    I say again: WELL DONE RCIPS.

    Perhaps the Ombudsman could turn her attention instead to the curfew breaches by the Health Minister’s wife and why it wasn’t prosecuted.