‘Nonsense’ to think police can just solve shootings — Matthews
Former Police Commissioner Michael Matthews has called for more public involvement by residents in order to get dangerous criminals in the territory off the streets and behind bars.
While appearing on the Talking Points show yesterday, Matthews pointed to the unwillingness by residents to come forward with evidence to assist members of Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) with some of the serious unsolved crimes in the territory.
Commenting on yesterday’s shooting death of a man on the eastern end of Tortola, Matthews said: “It saddens my soul and my heart every time I hear that (a shooting) on the news because it feels like nothing is changing.”
According to Matthews, the situation of unsolved crimes will not change unless some of the real barriers such as trust and confidence are overcome in the community. “It’s about the local community themselves being prepared to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough, I’m not gonna accept this anymore’,” Matthews stated.
The former commissioner said police are often lambasted by bloggers and other people for failures in solving crimes but he argued that solving and detecting serious offences such as murders is a very complex thing to do.
“The only way you detect a crime of that nature is by finding who the killer is and taking them off the street and placing them before a court. Now to do that, to take somebody’s liberty away like that, you’ve gotta have substantial evidence. And that evidence is not easy to find in such a small community like ours, because people are frightened to come forward,” Matthews explained.
He added: “People are reluctant to say what they saw, and we all know – because it’s a fact that if you are a witness to something – at some point you’ve gotta go and stand in a courtroom in front of a judge or a magistrate and say what you saw quite publicly. That’s a public duty.”
But Matthews said the only way for persons in the territory to remain safe is to accept this public duty as part of their responsibility.
“I can tell you now that I tried to do it and I know Commissioner [Mark] Collins has worked very, very hard to find ways that the public can come forward and give information in confidence to help the police solve these crimes,” Matthews related.
He argued that, although police have tools and resources such as ballistics, fingerprinting, DNA and other crime solving measures, “it is nonsense [and] it is Hollywood and TV show stuff to think that the police can just go out there and solve a shooting.”