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Extra money handy – more than half already used

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews. Photo Credit: Andre ‘Shadow’ Dawson/BVI News Online

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews said the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) already spent more than half of the additional $800,000 it received some five months ago.

The RVIPF received the money after the previous Governor, John Duncan, exercised his constitutional powers and forced Government to cough up more money than initially budgeted for the police.

The highly unusual move sparked widespread controversy, but the then governor maintained that it was a last resort in his bid to have the RVIPF better funded to tackle the spike in crime.

Commissioner Matthews told BVI News Online that a portion of the additional $800,000 was spent on much-needed equipment as well as new police vehicles.

“We are on target to complete that spend by the end of the financial year. We’ve gone over half way through it, to be honest. In fact, the most recent acquisition is that we’re just about to [purchase police dogs]. I’m hoping that the premier would have signed a contract, which will introduce canine capability back into the Force – that we haven’t had for some time; and that is part of their new stand.”

The re-introduction of dogs into the force also means police officers will have to undergo special training, Commissioner Matthews said.

“I’ve seen photographs of the dogs, and we’ve selected officers who are going to be trained as dog handlers, so I think the training is going to start some time in September/October.”

Three police dogs will be shipped from the United States as soon as Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith gives the nod.

“It will be an advantage for the force in terms of crime fighting, and a disadvantage to the criminals – clearly. The contractor has signed his contract, and we sent it across to the minister of finance for his signature. So we are anticipating that we’ll get back that contract in the very near future,” Commissioner Matthews said.

He added that the dogs will serve in different areas. “One will be a general purpose dog. We will also be bringing in a specialist dog for firearms and explosives, and one for drugs. They will be based at Road Town Police Station,” the commissioner said.

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