The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) is enhancing its surveillance capabilities with the use of drones. In fact it was announced that the Force is expecting to receive these surveillance devices soon to be used in addition to CCTV cameras.
The announcement of the plan to use drones for surveillance was made by His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert at a press conference on 27 February. The Governor told reporters “Hope in a few months to have drone surveillance available that would be used to support operations.”
The Governor explained that the drones are expected to help to maintain visibility around the Territory. However, he said that it is up to Commissioner of Police Michael Matthew to decide how he would deploy the drones.
Payment for the drones is expected to come from the initial part of the UK funding that was previously provided. It was disclosed that the UK provided £1.2 million as part of a package for immediate support. In fact, Governor Jaspert mentioned that the drone surveillance is part of a larger plan. “Drone surveillance is one part but actually maritime surveillance, they support even Customs and the police when they are planning joint operations.”
The Governor further stated that it is important to get surveillance in key places, and he noted that quite a few of the strategically placed CCTV cameras were damaged during the recent hurricanes.
Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith during the press conference explained that CCTV cameras have been successfully used in the Territory and he noted that additional cameras will further enhance security. “We see this as something that is important to get reinstated. Matter of fact the cameras that were here were very effective…”
The Premier further added: “The more we have properly distributed the more we would be able to see…I cannot at the moment say how many we would purchase. That would be determined by the Commissioner and his team as they survey the needs and plan of action.”
The plan to introduce drone surveillance and restore CCTV capabilities is part of a general security plan that was endorsed by both Premier Smith and Governor Jaspert to enhance safety in the Territory and thwart illegal activities.
The Governor said: “With the recent spate of crimes comes a response and a message to criminals that restoring any safety lost in our community is an urgent and serious priority. Last Tuesday, the law enforcement arms and personnel of this Territory (Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Immigration, Customs, Her Majesty’s Prison, BVI Ports Authority and BVI Airports Authority) met to discuss both the short and long term interventions and actions needed to address the security of these islands.”
His Excellency also noted that the plan is already in progress and that with the assistance of funding from the United Kingdom the moves to increase the number of RVIPF firearms officers, introduce armed response vehicle and extra homicide detectives have already commenced. In fact it was noted that the extra homicide detectives are already in the Territory working on cases. Additionally the Governor explained that currently work is being done to repair the infrastructure and equipment of the RVIPF and Her Majesty’s Prison.
“Whilst, for obvious reasons, the specific tactics and operations cannot be exposed, the community needs to know that security in these islands is a priority. Criminals that have taken advantage of any weaknesses in security after hurricanes Irma and Maria should know that this behavior has no place in this Territory and it must stop now,” Governor Jaspert added.