BVIslanders are the ones giving top cop posts to expats — Matthews
Despite the resentment that many locals may feel when expatriates get top jobs within government, former Police Commissioner Michael Matthews said residents should remember that BVIslanders are the ones who choose these individuals.
Speaking on the Talking Points radio show earlier this week, Matthews said the Governor only accepts the recommendations made by the panel of BVIslanders who select their preferred candidates.
“I know there’s good, healthy debate about whether outsiders should be appointed to these top positions and I understand all of that but you’re selected by a panel of BVIslanders. That’s an important point to get across — BVIslanders do have the first and foremost say in who the chief of police is going to be,” Matthews stated. “They do the interviews — the Police Service Commission does the interviews — they make the recommendations to the Governor, and I’ve not known of any recommendations that have not been accepted. I think all the previous commissioners were appointed in the same fashion.”
Matthews said that as someone who was new to the territory, one of the challenges he faced was getting familiar with the community; something he said took him almost a year.
“The reality kicks in very quickly, especially when you sit at that desk and you suddenly think ‘I’ve got to learn about this place very quickly’. The first six to nine months were particularly busy times, getting your feet under the table and understanding what worked or didn’t work and what needed to work differently. I hope that — in the time I was here — that I managed to establish myself with a good network with the community because I think that was key,” Matthews said.
The most senior posts in the RVIPF have always been controversial in the BVI as there is a perception that expatriates from the United Kingdom are almost always given preference.
Some residents have long held the view that such high-ranking posts should go to highly-skilled and hardworking local police officers who have served with excellence over the years.
While there is a common view that top police posts should be held by BVIslanders, there are still residents who believe policing is better when the Force is led by expatriates because having locals as leaders would fuel crime and corruption.
Just recently, local law enforcer Jacqueline Vanterpool was appointed as one of two Deputy Commissioners for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF). The other Deputy Commissioner is officer St Clair Amory. UK native Pam Trevillion, was appointed as Assistant Commissioner of Police. The currently man at the helm of the RVIPF is UK national, Mark Collins.