BVI News


CoP defends govt’s disaster response post-Irma

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews has come out in defence of the Government, dismissing claims that Governor Augustus Jaspert single-handedly took charge of the territory’s affairs in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“Not from where I was,” said Commissioner Matthews when the claim was put to him by Claude Skelton Cline during his Honestly Speaking radio show.

Cline was making reference to an article published in the United Kingdom Express on September 10, which hailed the Governor as a hero who took over when the Government allegedly collapsed following the September 6 hurricane.

Not the only hero

While continuing to defend the actions of the Government, Commissioner Matthews added that Governor Jaspert was not the only hero.

“There were a lot of heroes in those first few days. But I will agree that the Governor did a fantastic job, but the Premier was alongside him all the time and I know not everybody accepts that but that’s a fact. I was there, I was in the room, and the Premier was there the first evening with the Governor.”

He explained further that following the disaster he was the one who accompanied the Governor to the Emergency Response room where he met the Premier.

“We tried to start forming a meeting to get the Government going. It was a priority. There were daily meetings and cabinet members were involved. The problem was, we just couldn’t get the communication to tell people what was going on. So from my perspective, no, there was no collapse of the government,” he stated.

He, however, admitted that there were issues with law enforcement in the immediate aftermath.

Both Premier Dr. D Orlando Smith and Minister for Communication and Works, Mark Vanterpool have rubbished the claims as false when the issue was first raised by Opposition members last month.

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  1. Socrates says:

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    Taking the Comish at his word, Dr. was shoulder to shoulder with the Guv. But do we have a perception, visibility problem? Is the belief among many residents that government ministers were missing in action after the hurricane? If so, government has a huge perception problem, does it not? If so, does not government have a tree falling in the forest but no one there to see it problem? Is the attitude if I do not see you see, you are are hibernating?

    Is the lesson that when there is another disaster that government members/elected members need to blanket the territory with their presence? Did you notice that the Comish singleout the Guv for doing a fantastic job but oh yeah the Premier was there with him? But of course the Comish has to big up homy and his boss.

  2. voiceofthevoiceless says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

    What you all expected the Commish to say that the Premier and his Merrymen went AWOL and poorly handled the situation? The Man was being diplomatic and respectful and trying to stay away from the politics of the matter.

    The reality is that the situation was poorly handled and this is not just perception but reality. The BVI was a lawless state for 48 hours and had the Government including the Cop been proactive and enforced the State of emergency maybe we could have saved businesses and individuals the millions in losses they incurred at the hands of the looters. Where is the comprehensive plan to rebuild? A massive prison break and we heard about it 2 weeks later? Look I could go on and on but why bother? Seems like nothing has been learnt from it as no one is willing to say look I screwed up!

  3. For real says:

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    Good one CoP. That’s how you keep your job during hard times hehehe.

  4. Watcher says:

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    Mathews will probably also tell us that there have been no murders and no robberies under his watch.

  5. Albion says:

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    I am pleased the Commish was able to admit that there were problems with law enforcement post Irma. But it needs to go deeper than that. There was fundamental failure on the part of the police force – both in terms of systems and in terms of personnel – the public trust is badly damaged. Far, far too many offices simply did not report for duty for days. Police officers took part in the looting. Our own police were utterly unable to control the situation and had to rely on outsiders. The police did not even have radios to communicate when cell phones went down. These are serious, serious failings.

    We need an open and honest assessment of the police’s failures, and a sensible plan about how we remedy those failures, would be much more welcome that a passing admission of failure in an interview on another topic. This is too important to sweep under the rug.

  6. Ddm says:

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    They collapsed trust me I was there also

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