The shooting which occurred during a robbery at Fahie Boy Bar in Long Look on 6 January and resulted in the death of Franklyn Fahie has ignited a call for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) to be fully armed.
Following the report of the shooting residents commented on the various blogs and on the 10 January edition of the Speak Out BVI talk show that the time has come for police officers to be fully equipped to protect against gun wielding criminals.
The first caller to the show declared: “How the Governor could be in his bed with his wife and say that the police officers don’t need gun; and you know them men get gun out there? You know them men will shoot you? How you could face men who have gun with a club? What the hell is that!”
The resident during his comment lamented that things have taken a drastic change in the Territory: “Tortola is not the Tortola that it was 40 years when I was growing up… You can’t blame the police, you have to blame the Governor and the Premier…Every police you talk to that is hired tells you the same thing.”
Things Can Get Worse
A male caller announced that urgent action should be taken to prevent the present situation from escalating and causing harm to the Territory’s tourism product. He said that the Government should provide aid to the RVIPF to prevent an occurrence of Tourists being robbed which he explained negatively affected neighbouring St. Croix.
“Bring police officers from overseas if necessary! What the people of the BVI don’t understand is that we walking on cobweb, anytime it could burst. You see what happen to St Croix, they ain’t catch themselves yet. It takes one foolish person to go and rob them tourist or kill them tourist. These robbers doing these things now don’t have nothing to lose it’s the people who invest money will lose.”
He also announced that resources should also be provided to improve the Territory’s other departments of security: “You can’t spend money in one department you have to spend in all department Customs, Police, Immigration.”
Police Should be Removed from Governor’s Portfolio
While weighing in on the discussion in a statement on 10 January, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Julian Fraser opined that it may be better for the Territory if the Governor transfers the responsibility of the police to the Premier.
Hon. Fraser while commenting on subject of crime in the Territory stated that the Force will continue to struggle for sufficient funding as long as it remains out of the mandate of the elected government. “Our Police Department should not be in competition for funds in order to provide the necessary resources to keep the peace. But don’t expect that to change as long as they remain under the Governor.”
“As long as the Police is under the Governor the Elected Government will never feel the necessary pressures to properly fund the Police because the issue of crime is always the responsibility of those in charge,” Hon. Fraser pointed out
The Leader of the Opposition explained that if the Governor decided to transfer the responsibility of the Force he will not be setting a precedent as sister Overseas Territory Bermuda reportedly undertook a similar step: “There is no reason the Governor can’t give responsibility for the Police to the Premier. It happend in Bermuda, and it has been working for decades. The mechanism for this exists, constitutionally. We need to make our Elected Government responsible for keeping us safe, and if they don’t, hold them accountable,” Hon. Fraser said.
The Leader of the Opposition also agreed with views expressed by some residents that the RVIPF should be armed. Hon. Fraser said: “I have always been an advocate for officers being equipped with firearms, and that is long before matters had gotten this bad. This philosophy has been partially and halfheartedly employed in certain instances, where at special events a handful of police officers will show up wearing a firearm. Proof positive, that the need exists.”