With the growing cases of financial crimes in the territory, dogs in the newly-relaunched Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) K9 Unit will soon be trained to detect large amounts of cash.
The unit, which has not been in opertion for about three years, was officially relaunched on Wednesday at the Road Town Police Station.
The K9 Unit now comprises three trained veteran police officers, three canines, and two new vehicles that has been fitted with dog kennels.
Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews described the relaunch as a ‘momentous occasion’ for the RVIPF and said the unit will assist in a number of different criminal cases.
Already the dogs were trained in detecting illicit drugs, as well as firearms and explosives, he said, noting that further training is underway.
“We are looking at training them in the scent of money because we know that there is a lot of cash floating about in the territory you have seen some of the arrests between Customs and ourselves in that regard,” the top cop said.
“So, that’s the next step forward for them. This additional capability we believe will bring greater results and greater safety to the territory.”
During the animals’ four-month training period in the territory, police “had a lot of successes in terms of the capture of illicit drugs and firearms”, Matthews added.
Governor Augustus Jaspert, who has responsibility for police, presented each member of the team with certificates at Wednesday’s relaunch.
He went on to underscored the importance of improving the territory’s national security.
“All of this is part of our security plan where we are making sure that we improve border security, improve the security within the territory, and improve joint operations across agencies with Customs and Immigration.”
He continued: “I look forward to seeing the dogs out on operation across the territory.”
Government pumped $150,000 into the RVIPF to have its K9 Unit reinstituted.
The canines were sourced in the United States and trained alongside local officers by former law enforcement officers Paris Nicholson and Pipkin Chuck from a US-based compnay called K9 on Patrol Security.