The spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the territory last month forced the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) to isolate approximately 50 percent of its personnel after 16 officers tested positive for the virus.
This is according to Commissioner of Police, Michael Matthews who said in a recent interview with 284 Media that reorganising the RVIPF’s frontline was one of the challenges experienced during the spike.
“The minute you talk about 16 cases against 240 odd police officers; it doesn’t perhaps seem a lot. But the first thing you have to do with every single case is work out who they were working with, and who they’ve been in contact with in terms of public and work colleagues,” the Commissioner stated.
“That tracking and tracing exercise led by the Ministry of Health meant that a lot more than 16 officers had to be withdrawn from the frontline very quickly and isolated for the safety of the force and for the safety of the community,” he added.
Isolation was necessary for worse-case scenario
The top cop said the decision to isolate half of the force was to protect them from contracting the virus and allow for the effective continuation of policing across the territory.
“We split our shifts in half and just put half the patrols out that we would normally want to. The idea being, of course, that if it had got worse, then we had at least fifty percent of our available personnel kept in quarantine isolated locations that could be brought back in and continue policing on behalf of the public,” Matthews explained.
He added: “The net effect, of course, is that we still have to provide our security of the border, our marine policing, our traffic policing, our crime investigations and normal response policing on the 911 and 311 and so the list goes on.”
Matthews, therefore, thanked his officers for their efforts not only during the COVID spike but over the last few months.
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