BVI News

INSPIRE BVI: From rejection to distinction

James Halliday

By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Staff

When James Halliday made his first attempt to enter the law enforcement profession, he was refused.

But, through resilience, the Nevis native is now among the most decorated personnel to have served in the said profession here in the British Virgin Islands.

His first attempt was in his homeland.

“I wanted to join the police force way back in St Kitts. But in St Kitts they didn’t like me. They had too many applicants and I didn’t get through. So I migrated to Antigua, where I worked at the Holberton Hospital as a clerk.

They were very small; so I decided to join the police force [in Antigua],” Halliday recalled.

He joined the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force.

After spending roughly five years in the Antiguan civil service, Halliday transferred to the then Leeward Islands Police Force.

He later enlisted in what was the newly-formed Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) in 1967.

Now retired from the RVIPF, the sharp-witted Halliday, who said he has a ‘tonne of years’ in age, had not only served as a police officer in the BVI.

He also worked in the Immigration Department, as well as the BVI Ports Authority.


Halliday’s military experience served him and the RVIPF well during one of BVI’s most unforgettable events – the day a group of men attempted to take over the police station in Road Town.

Halliday told BVI News Online that the attempted take-over happened while the RVIPF was still a relatively young establishment.

At the time, he and other officers marched on the group and restored law and order.

Halliday however recalled suffering an injury when he was clobbered in the head with a stick.

That wasn’t the last time Halliday suffered an injury on the job. Also, he once received six stitches after his forehead was split open with a rock.

“All of them (experiences) rough… It was a bit tough” the retired law enforcer told BVI News Online.

But he was quick to note that, although his tenure was tough, he is thankful for the many experiences.

“The time spent with the Force was very good. It gives you all the experience to go into the community and live with the residents because, when you are a good police officer, you fit in good with the community… When you deal fairly with the general public, they get to love you and they get to give you information.”

“When you are a bad police officer, you can’t fit in good,” Halliday further said, adding that one of his most cherished moments was when he spent time in England pursuing a senior police officer course.

Leading up to his retirement in 1986, Halliday served two decades in the RVIPF.


He stated that, during his tenure, he moved up the ranks by making himself available whenever he was called upon.

“I was the first quarter master responsible for all of the firearms and the whole premises. I was the first drill instructor in 1968 in Barbados to represent the BVI and to train men,” he recalled.

“I was also the first surveillance officer for the Immigration Department. I was transferred there in 1974 as a senior officer in surveillance to strengthen the Immigration Department, because there were only civilians at that time, and they wanted a police material,” Halliday further told BVI News Online.

He worked at the BVI Ports Authority after he retired from the RVIPF.

Young James Halliday as BVI’s first drill instructor.

Now retired from the various public posts, Halliday wishes to encourage modern-day polices officers to serve the Territory with love.

“You have to have patience with the general public. You’re going to see the crime; you’re going to know its there, but you as a police officer is no longer there to lock up too much. You’re there to make peace. You’re more or less a make-peace officer. That’s the goal of police.”

“Police have to have more love for the public and the community. You have to have the love… When you see people, you help them and you give them encouragement,” said Halliday, who now finds more time to offer his service through the church.

He is a preacher at the Methodist Church in Road Town. Halliday noted that he, in fact, has been preaching since 1990, and he doesn’t intend to stop.

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1 Comment

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  1. Retied Police says:

    This is a wonderful read. I know Mr. Halliday, and he is always full of life. I thank you Mr. Halliday for your service to the Virgin Islands. I am almost tempted to say that that type of policing is long gone. The new era is something else.

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