Pundit calls for inquiry into tear-gassing of protestors

Police patrolling an area in the City where residents have gathered to protest (photo contributed)
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A former police officer is calling for an inquiry into the August 8 protest in which the police deployed tear gas on a crowd of demonstrators after they defied lawmen’s orders to disperse from an “illegal” gathering.

The incident, and the subsequent fallout, have been the source of major public debate over the past week.

Retired Cayman Islands police officer, Courtney Myles, believes the country could benefit from an investigation into the matter.

“Having been a riot squad commander, I know that whenever you have to deploy tear gas it has to be extreme measures, and you have to be certain that deploying it, it would hit the mark.

“Definitely, an outside review would be of paramount importance for the government and the Commissioner of Police,” said Myles.

The former head of the Community Policing Department in the Cayman Islands also stressed the importance of community policing in such situations.

He mentioned that following last Sunday’s events, the level of confidence the public had in law enforcement has more than likely dwindled.

“You want the public to be working with you, not against you. If you don’t have the public working with you, you will never solve crimes in your community. You got to have the public working with you,” he added.

Echoing his sentiments was the Ambassador-at-Large for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, Akaash Maharaj.

Maharaj said not only was the use of tear gas uncalled for, but that the police should reflect on the matter to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

“From what I saw, the violence happened after the protestors were gassed, not before. The use of force should only be used to restrain actual violence. This is an example where police action has caused the situation to escalate rather than deescalate.

“I think there’s no way that one can look at the situation that unfolded and think that this was a happy outcome. The question that the police must now answer for themselves is, what are they going to do differently next time there is a protest,” Maharaj said.

He agreed that community policing is paramount and following this protest “it will make the job harder and much more difficult for them”.

Efforts to reach Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney for a comment were unsuccessful.

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