By Mellica McPherson
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is getting to the root of the gun use issue by attempting to foster a partnership with USVI police and other agencies in order to eliminate illegal weapons circulation. The plan was disclosed to The Island Sun newspaper during an interview with the Commissioner of Police, Michael Matthews.
For years many BVI citizens and residents have expressed the greatest concern due illegal weapons getting into the Territory and in a number of instances used illegally and/for criminal activities. The Police have taken various approaches to rid the Territory of illegal weapons such as arrest, and even an amnesty program. However, various reports have indicated that there are still illegal guns remaining. The problem is old and has remained uncurbed and unsolved for many decades, something that should concern not only the BVI but also Britain. Concerned citizens are thinking in that direction now.
Mr. Matthew has disclosed that the Force is taking a different approach to the situation by utilizing intelligence and a special police team to find illegal weapons in the BVI.
“Since I have been here we have created a dedicated team. Initially we were focusing on robberies because that was one of the prime concerns, and remains obviously; but now we are seeing sporadic occasions where guns are being used in confrontation situations and we need to stamp that out,” the Commissioner said.
Mr. Matthews explained that the special police team consists of detectives, uniformed and armed officers all combined, working together — some overt and some covert. He also noted that the RVIPF is following a number of investigative leads aimed not only at solving crimes but finding illegal firearms and ammunition.
The Commissioner said in past weeks the RVIPF has executed numerous search warrants. He said that searches have led to the seizing of firearms and ammunition and as a result arrests were made. “We are going to continue to target hot spot areas where we believe weapons to be,” he said.
It was also disclosed that the RVIPF is keen on intercepting weapons arriving into the Territory, and he noted that this will be done through USVI partnership: “The key of course and the work to be done is to target the weapons arriving here in the Virgin Islands. That work I am already engaged in with colleagues in the American Virgin Islands, and elsewhere to look at a joint approach to what is becoming certainly elsewhere quite a common problem. It is not common here yet and I don’t want it to become so.”
By Mellica McPherson