Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews said his team will this year start rolling out police vehicles that are far more easily identifiable, adding that he also does not want police officers being recruited from overseas to think they are here to merely enjoy the sunshine and lifestyle.
“There’s a lot said about training and courses; and not everything can be delivered here in the territory at the moment. Sometimes I do have to send officers overseas; sometimes I have to bring overseas officers here. That’s not a bad thing, provided those officers I bring here don’t think they are here to sit back, enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the lifestyle and the wonderful welcome from the communities.”
“They are here to work; they are here to pass on skills; they are here to develop the local officers and the local teams so that the demands from the outside becomes less, and the growth of skills become more locally,” the commissioner said.
He added that, in relation to recruitment, he still wants more locals to apply.
“We are recruiting and I am really keen to recruiting local Virgin Islanders. So far, it’s looking good. I’ve already got eight young BVIslanders applying and going through the process. But I want more, and I know it’s a challenge,” he said.
Hard to identify police vehicles
While indicating that Government has promised to make funds available for new vehicles, the commissioner said he sometimes is unable to identify police vehicles now on the road.
“I’ve got to be honest with you and say sometimes, when I’m driving through the traffic, I don’t recognise my police vehicles because sometimes they just got a sticker stuck to the side – often at a dodgy angle, saying ‘Police’. And it’s normally a dented old car that doesn’t look remotely like a professional police vehicle.”
“[Currently], we have got 38 vehicles on the fleet; I need 45 minimum. And, of the 38, there is about 10 that aren’t working at the moment. So we are really stretched,” Commissioner Matthews said on Monday, hours after Premier
Dr D Orlando Smith said his government last year provided the police with additional funds to get more resources.
Premier Smith told the House of Assembly: “My government within the last year has provided financial resources in excess of $600,000 beyond the budgetary allocation for strengthening the ranks of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and for equipment.”
Meanwhile, at a community meeting in the Long Look hours after the premier’s budget speech on Monday, Commissioner Matthews indicated that he is banking on the additional resources.
He said he does not know how much the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force will receive from the national budget of $323.1 million that was announced for this year. But the commissioner is upbeat.
“We are gonna improve our vehicle fleet. Again, the government have found additional monies so that we can increase the number of fully equipped, marked police vehicles… You will start to see in 2017 the roll-out of highly marked, highly visible police cars on patrol in this territory in the East End area. That, I hope, will start to build up the confidence that we can be visible while still doing the job,” added Commissioner Matthews.
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