Davion Smith, BVI News Online Journalist
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) has taken on a musical task that it hopes will contribute towards wholesome community development, and will especially teach children that police officers have a greater role than arresting and charging people.
The force yesterday completed its first steel pan summer camp for children, adding that it hopes the event has provided the necessary inspiration for the RVIPF to launch steel bands in East End, Road Town, and West End by the end of September.
In a ceremony to mark the end of the roughly eight-day summer camp, cops and other community members congregated at St Georges Secondary School to hear the youngsters show off their new found steel pan skills. The young musicians are being dubbed the RVIPF Steel Pan Club.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Alwyn James said the RVIPF started the camp to – among other things – reach out to the community.
“We’re not seeing steel pan anymore, so we decided that’s a culture we wanted to restore. But it’s also an opportunity for us as officers to engage with the children in a non-confrontational environment where the children can realise the police is not only there to enforce laws and to arrest and charge people,” the deputy commissioner said.
He added that the success of the camp has encouraged the RVIPF to take the initiative further by starting a steel pan orchestra on the island of Tortola.
“The summer camp was just for us to test and see the interest that was out there, because what we want to do is hopefully – by the end of September – start steel bands in East End, central, and West End.”
Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews, in the meantime, said he was thrilled with the idea when it was first proposed by his officers.
He said the community is also impressed.
“The feedback that I’ve been getting has been absolutely brilliant; really positive. So I was delighted to give this my support and let the force get involved to do this… We should also recognise that famous quote that the children are our future. And, if we don’t invest in our young people, then we are doomed in our future. That’s my humble opinion.”
“I hope that my team can make a small contribution to the Virgin Islands and to the children and their communities by doing this summer camp. I hope it’s not going to be the last,” added Commissioner Matthews.
The police also expressed gratitude to the pan instructors, as well as persons such as Reverend Ian Rock who provided the instrument and venue for the camp.
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