BVI News

Unarmed cops can no longer grab guns at will, told to steer clear of live firearm incidents

Officers of the Armed Response Unit in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF.)

Prior to 2016 when Police Commissioner Michael Matthews commenced his duties in the BVI, regular police officers were permitted to arbitrarily retrieve a firearm from the police weapons safe and respond at a live firearms incident. That “ad hoc” approach has been removed from local policing, and only officers in the Armed Response Unit are permitted to respond to live incidents involving guns.

Commissioner Matthews made that clear amid concerns that police took a considerable long time to respond to a relatively-recent armed robbery at the Paradise Club in Cane Garden Bay, even though a police station was right next door.

The top cop said the available officers at the police station were instructed to “stay at a safe distance and observe” until the RVIPF’s Armed Response Unit arrived at the scene.

“If you send an unarmed officer into a live firearms situation and they lose their life, we’ve achieved nothing. So, we’ve moved from the [previous] ad hoc approach where anybody (a police officer) could grab a gun from out the [weapons] safe and run to an incident,” the Commissioner said.

“That wasn’t good enough because you can’t give a firearm to just anyone,” he added.

Armed response units active 24/7

Save for the generally poor state of local roads that may cause delays, an Armed Police Unit should be able to respond to any given firearms incident relatively quickly, Commissioner Matthews noted.

That is because the aforesaid RVIPF policy also provides for increased armed response units patrolling the territory.

“We have on patrol, 24/7, armed officers with a range of firearms in their vehicle ready to deploy. They can self-deploy without any authority if they come across a firearms incident,” said Matthews while speaking on the Honestly Speaking radio programme last week.

He said there are currently armed units deployed to each of the three sections of Tortola — eastern, central, and western.

“There is more coming for Virgin Gorda as well,” the top cop said. “The idea is that we will maintain that response 24/7.”

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  1. Bull Dawg says:

    That’s good to know.
    This country is not as safe as it use to before.
    Too many guns.

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  2. .... says:

    What is the point in having a police station in CGB then? For show?

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    • Hanger says:

      Obviously only a very tiny proportion of the crime dealt with by that station involves firearms so you need a station to deal with them.

  3. OK... says:

    So why in this day and age cant all of our officers be trained to use firearms again?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    If you are going to have police they need to be armed!! All of them!!! A uniform is no defense to a criminal with a weapon. Penalties need to be harsh for weapons possession. No slap on the hand. 10 years minimum sentence if caught in possession of a firearm. Without this, crime will continue to rise. The criminals know that they can freely commit crimes as there is no one to stop them. Most crimes take only a few minutes and roving armed police units are not the answer.

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  5. Disinterested says:

    Good policy. Guns and ammunition should be subcustodied to officers with a strict, documented chain-of-custody. Officers should be trained on the use of and be proficient with the weapon. Use of the weapon(s) should be based on the escalation of force. Even if officers are authorized to carry weapons, they must approached any scene where weapons are involved cautiously and safely, employing cover and concealment as appropriate for their own personal safety and safety of the public.

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  6. bull says:

    Commissioner that was a bad play so what the regular officers would do because everyone have guns so this country would be in trouble

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    • Trellis says:

      That’s simply untrue. In my 39 years of life and all of it as a belonger, I have never known anyone with a gun here. Perhaps it’s just the company you keep and they have been influenced by the US. God help us if we do that.

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  7. Observant says:

    The simplest solution that I’ll offer for free to this seemingly “intelligent” police commissioner is simply to ensure that all officers are properly trained and armed so that in circumstances where the use of firearms is warranted that they will be able to operate effectively.

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  8. richgdgy says:

    How can a cop do his job without a weapon?Oh just ask a liberal.

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    • Gangja says:

      I’m far from liberal but I love the fact that we have so few weapons here and that’s because the cops are not armed. If you want to live like they do in shipholes like the US, go there. We prefer things the way they are here. They manage very well without regular cops being armed in Britain, Ireland and Norway too.

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    • Dwayne says:

      As an ex cop I can tell you that every experience I had on duty, without exception, would have had a worse outcome had more weapons been involved.

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  9. Concerned says:

    All police officers should be trained to use guns despite the fact that we have tactical units.
    What will happen if gunmen decide to attack the CGB police station God forbid? The police on duty should run and hide until the special unit arrives? Madness!!

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    • Observant says:

      Exactly my sentiments. It seems that the police commissioner has his own secret agenda and not the welfare and safety of his officers in his mind.

  10. Agreed says:

    If you don’t have enough trained officers handling guns to deal with situations like this, maybe it’s time to train more officers. Therefore when incidents like this occur, they don’t have to “stay at a safe distance”. I understand safety is priority but what the point of having officers when they arent doing anything? We can’t keep having situations like this where we’re paying officers to be spectators.

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  11. Peng says:

    bs…. Matthew, that UK mentality wont work here. Its like bringing a knife to a gun fight..similar to the military every police office goes through basic training, which involves how to use a firearm correctly and effectively. there is no reason having a police station nearby and not having an armed cop(s) on the scene to monitor the situation. What we want to know is what is the response time of law enforcement in the BVI to appear on the scene of a shooting/other life incident? You have the funding what really is the issue.

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  12. Eagle eye says:

    I will say this even though it makes me sad.this moves shows that the commissioner clearly supports crime but pretending he doesn’t because he know lawyers judges etc have to get paid.that’s why stiffer penalties will not be introduce. Sad.

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  13. Oops says:

    So what will the officer do if or when their patrol is attacked or an incident happen in their presence. Should they sit tight for back up or take flight? Run popo run for lol lol lol! Seriously?

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  14. Mr Shovels says:

    “That wasn’t good enough because you can’t give a firearm to just anyone,”… The fact that he doesn’t trust all his officers with a firearm makes me question the competency of the entire force.

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  15. LEGION says:

    Weak police management period. Talk to the cops directly and they will tell u.

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  16. Lily Ann says:

    Sooooo we just gonna allow gunmen to conquer???? retardedness

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