October 20, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Do you love our roadblocks by the traffic police?

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Colin Wilson2webEven though we don’t have a separate traffic unit we do have roadblocks that have been placed there and manned by RCIPS officers acting as traffic police. Apparently every police officer in the Cayman Islands is a traffic policeman. So beware. Especially if you dare to drive through an amber light. An amber light means stop no matter if the light was green when you commenced – you have to stop even if this means you are now blocking traffic or pedestrians. This is according to one over zealous police officer who relishes ‘ticketing’ the public. I know!!

When it comes to actual roadblocks the RCIPS also have their own interpretation on what the law means and not what it actually says. And that is the end of the matter and no more discussion.

Our intrepid local lawyer, Peter Polack, who is the Road Warrior Hero of the Cayman Islands, has been arguing the RCIPS procedure of erecting roadblocks is illegal and has made a criminal complaint about it.

Actually he has been making the same complaint since October last year but has received very little in anything regarding a reply.

However, persistence wins in the end, especially as he has gone to Cayman’s media, and we have, I believe, nudged someone in the bowels of the RCIPS to finally respond.

According to Polack the RCIPS consistently breach section 116 of the Traffic Law namely:

116. (1) For the purpose of enforcing this Law or regulations, a constable may erect on a road, whether during the day or night a roadblock or barrier, at which all vehicles shall be required to stop.
(2) The approach to a roadblock shall be identified –
(a) during the daytime, by not less than two police notices or signposts erected at a suitable distance from the road block or barrier, facing on coming traffic; and
(b) during the night, by not less than three warning lights, of prescribed design, in conjunction with police notices or signposts erected at a suitable distance from the road block or barrier, facing oncoming traffic.

Polack even supplied photographs that clearly show this was not done at a roadblock in Bodden Town last year.

Despite this, when Polack finally received his reply from Trenda S. Kelly| Administrative Assistant Cayman Islands Government|Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) it said:
“Dear Sir,

“The Director’s response is as follows:-

1. Complaint as to breach of the Cayman Islands Constitutional Order.
The appropriate procedure for dealing with alleged breaches of the
Constitution is to seek the ruling of the Constitutional Court (Grand
Court).

“1. Complaint as to Traffic Stop.
Given section 116 (1) of the Traffic Law 2011 which provides as follows:
” For the purpose of enforcing this Law or regulations, a constable may erect on a road, whether during the day or night a road block or barrier, at which vehicles shall be required to stop.”

“The operation mounted by the Police is permissible in Law.

“Kind regards”

So there! No need to address what the law actually says and what wasn’t done. Everything is permissible by the RCIPS.

I have not heard from our Road Warrior Hero whether he has heard back from the RCIPS regarding his Criminal Complaint into the temporary detaining of drivers of vehicles one Saturday morning. Unfortunately for the police one such driver who was annoyed was an ex MLA and a prominent well respected member of the community and (shudders from the RCIPS) Mr Polack himself. That, indeed, was a mistake, in my opinion.

The following is his complaint:

A complaint of criminal conduct is made in regard to the actions of the members of the RCIPS under the authority and direction of the Commissioner of Police opposite the Cricket ground George Town at approximately 10:30 pm on Saturday 11 October 2014.
At approximately 10:30 pm on Saturday 11 October 2014 I was temporarily detained by a member of the RCIPS who displayed no visible identification or
number as he was wearing a dark protection vest. In reply to my query as to the reason for the stopping of my vehicle and detention I was advised that this was a “coupon check”. Persons who were observed being stopped in an extensive line of traffic late at night were not advised of the reason of their temporary detention.
These coupon checks are daily occurrences in the Cayman Islands in which
hundreds of persons are subject to illegal temporary detention by the RCIPS.
The vehicles with expired coupons are easily obtained from the Department of
Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing database which would provide all necessary
information for police enforcement.
The actions of the RCIPS and Commissioner of Police amounted to the following breaches of law:
The Cayman Islands Constitution 2009
A breach of section 5 which provides that no one shall be deprived by government of liberty and security of the person.
A breach of section 5 (3) which provides a right to be promptly informed of the detention, that is, without request.
A breach of section 13(1) which provides that no person shall be hindered by
government in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of movement, that is to say, the right to move freely throughout the Cayman Islands.

The Penal Code
A breach of section 118 which provides A person who being employed in the public service, in the discharge of his duties, commits any fraud or breach of trust affecting the public.
A breach of section 119 by the Commissioner of Police being a person who being employed in the public service willfully neglected to perform a duty which he is lawfully bound to perform namely to prevent a breach of the Constitution and the Penal Code.
END

Watch this space. I do not believe we have heard the end of the matter.

Full marks to our Hero.

The RCIPS want our help and we should readily provide them with our help. However, this increasing over zealous and what appears illegal use and interpretation of authority will not make anyone anxious to help when they have been subject to the above on an ever increasing trend. Even though the RCIPS have said it is what the public wants from their recent survey.

There are a lot of things the public desires of the RCIPS and on my thermometer roadblocks are at the bottom.

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