Newly appointed Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews refuted comments and allegations that the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is corrupt. The new Police Chief also pledged to root out any bad apples, but stressed that he makes no judgment in relation to officers who were interdicted and charged.
In addressing the corruption comments Mr. Matthews said: “It is disappointing to me personally that when I arrived I discovered a number of officers currently interdicted or under investigation. You have all been aware that most recently officers have been arrested and charged for criminal offences.”
“However, it is absolutely right and proper that any suspicion of corrupt behavior or corrupt practice must be thoroughly investigated,” the Commissioner said.
Mr. Matthew admitted that confidence and concerns arose following the interdiction and arrest of officers. He also noted that many felt action was taken too slowly: “While there is some frustration in the community, in the media, and indeed in the Force among some of our own officers this kind of investigations takes time.”
“That particular investigation has been going on for months. It’s been going on for so long, in fact I was briefed on it in December. I was briefed on the details of what was likely to happen. There is good reason why these things don’t come out in public very early on and that the work was going on behind the scene has to remain secret, covert to ensure that the best evidence is captured and that justice can be seen to be done, “ he explained.
“The important thing that I want to express very deeply, and sincerely here today is something that I have said in a meeting with most of my officers… In a meeting last Wednesday – that is simply this – the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is not corrupt, it never has been corrupt, it never will be corrupt.”
“To say that it is corrupt is a smear on all of the hard work of the honest intelligent and dedicated officers that work for the Royal Virgin Islands Force. What is clear is there is evidence there has been some corrupt practice by a very small minority, and we will continue to target, to tackle, and to root out any form of corruption within policing, but this Force is no different than any other Force around the world.”
“There are a few bad apples, but a few bad apples doesn’t rot the whole barrel and getting a proper investigation on the way and seeking to root out corruption wherever it may exist will continue to be the desire and the focus of this administration,” he added.