British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Mar 02, 2021

'I have never felt unwelcome in VI'- CoP Matthews

'I have never felt unwelcome in VI'- CoP Matthews

Despite being a territory of mostly black people, the Virgin Islands, as expected, was more than welcoming to caucasian Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews over the last five years of his tenure.

Commenting on a 'wonderful' 5 years at the helm of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), outgoing Commissioner Matthews described the Virgin Islands as a "wonderful place with wonderful people."

The Commissioner was at the time speaking during the Friday, January 15, 2021, episode of JTV’s The Big Story with host Cathy O. Richards.

“One thing I will say about the British Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands people is if you cut through all the noise and all the negativity, which is a few bloggers and a few news feeds that create a negative picture, if you cut through some of that and get below it, this is a wonderful place with wonderful people.

“My wife and I have never been made more than welcome, I've never felt threatened, I've never felt uncomfortable and I've never felt unwelcome, despite the odd blogger telling me to go home,” he said.

In fact, Mr Matthews said he was shocked when, on his first arrival to the territory, the press asked him about his thoughts on being white in a predominately black Virgin Islands.


Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews, left, seen here with Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie, said he and family were made to feel more than welcome over the last five years of his tenure in the Virgin Islands.

RVIPF had bad press relations in 2016


Mr Matthews explained that as a result of poor press relations when he arrived to lead the force, he decided to get himself familiarised with the local media.

“I said right let's call a press conference, get 'em [media] all in and let's have a chat. I remember distinctly one thing that came up in the conference is one of the early questions. They said well you know, how do you feel about being a white guy coming in here overseeing a predominantly black population in a black country,” he said.

“You know and it took me back, it completely threw me, because I remember at the time the thinking hadn't crossed my mind,” Mr Matthews said.

He recalled that his answer to the question might have been for persons to not judge his skin colour, rather the results of him leading the force.

“Now I should have read the small print in the contract because my results without any shadow of a doubt didn't include two category 5 hurricanes, didn't include a pandemic, didn't include the rebuilding of the police force after a hurricane,” Mr Matthews said.


The Commissioner was at the time speaking during the Friday, January 15, 2021, episode of JTV’s The Big Story with host Cathy O. Richards when he revealed that as a result of poor press relations when he arrived to lead the force, he decided to get himself familiarized with the local media.

Rough tenure


When Mr Matthews arrived in the Virgin Islands from the UK, he quickly developed a reputation of being of friendly demeanour and approachable and one who paid attention to public relations via the media.

While the RVIPF, under Mr Matthews, was commended for its work after the hurricanes of September 2017, reports of police officers also involved in looting tarnished the force's image.

He then came under heavy criticism last year when his ranks were accused of using excessive force during arrests, including tasing of persons in non-threatening situations.

Mr Matthews was quick to defend his ranks, despite the wave of public condemnation against the actions of the police.

He was also under fire for the RVIPF’s inability to address the vexing issue of motor scooter riders brazenly disregarding traffic rules and being a nuisance to the motoring public and the community at large.

Additionally, there have been reports of low morale among officers and lack of camaraderie. The latter came out in full display on April 22, 2020, when two of his officers were engaged in a verbal spat, which almost turned physical over what was allegedly bad parking by the entrance of the One Mart Supermarket in Purcell Estate.

The incident was captured on video and shared on social media.

The Police Welfare Association also accused him last year of not giving local officers fair opportunities for training and promotion and bypassing them for UK recruits.

Mr Matthews had replaced another UK national as CoP, Mr David Morris, whose appointment had caused controversy since there were on-going formal complaints against him, including allegations of unfair dismissals and abuse of authority.


While the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), under Mr Michael B. Matthews, was commended for its work after the hurricanes of September 2017, reports of police officers also involved in looting tarnished the force's image.


Outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews came under heavy criticism last year when his ranks were accused of using excessive force during arrests, including tasing of persons in non-threatening situations.


Outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews came under heavy criticism last year when his ranks were accused of using excessive force during arrests, including tasing of persons in non-threatening situations.

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