While noting that police have seized about half-dozen guns since the hurricanes, Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews said he has not ruled out the option of arming more of his officers.
The top cop said he will assess whether to arm more members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) when external police forces leave the territory.
Countries such as the Cayman Islands have deployed some of their police officers to assist the RVIPF post-hurricane.
“If once external officers leave the territory – and I hope that’s not anytime soon – and I feel that we need to increase that capacity, I will do so. But, at the moment, I am quite content that firearms and policing are something that should only be used on the rarest of occasions. And what we are not seeking to do is become an armed force in the territory at any stage,” the commissioner said.
Matthews, however, added that the armed cops from other police forces have been a ‘huge assistance’ in apprehending unlawfully armed civilians.
“In the immediate aftermath of both hurricanes, there were one or two individuals who took it upon themselves to carry illegal firearms in the territory and we were able to detain a number of people and retrieve a number of firearms including just in the last two weeks where we retrieved two more loaded firearms.”
“Off the top of my head, I would say I’m aware of at least six cases where firearms have been seized,” Matthews told BVI News.
Over the years, there has been much public debate on whether police in the BVI should carry firearms. At least one parliamentarian, Julian Fraser, has publicly expressed support for arming local police.