The most recent lambasting of the actions of police came following a video showing police struggling with a young man and subsequently throwing a man to the ground before handcuffing him on September 27, 2020.
The video, which was widely circulated on social media, had seen persons agreeing that the young man was resisting arrest; however, some also felt the use of such force was not necessary, especially since the man was initially stopped for a traffic violation.
Following recent allegations of the use of excessive force by ranks of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) during arrests, Commissioner of Police, Michael B. Matthews has said Officers are by law entitled to use reasonable force as is necessary in any given circumstances.
Some had lamented that police are beginning to use excessive force and causing matters to escalate as has been seen in many incidents in the United States of America (USA).
Commissioner Matthews; however, had given his officers the benefit of the doubt and had gone as far as saying his officers can lawfully use reasonable force as necessary.
“Officers are by law entitled to use reasonable force as is necessary in any given circumstances. If a person detained does not comply with instructions, officers may use reasonable force to gain such compliance whilst seeking to avoid as far as possible injuries to any suspect, themselves or the wider public,” Mr Matthews told Virgin Islands News Online.
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) had come under fire on social media in April 2020 for tasing a homeless man who was on the ground at the time and did not appear to be of any threat to police.
Ever since police have been tasing persons during arrests, the public has been questioning whether the tasing and sometimes use of force have been necessary.
It was in April 2020 that a video had surfaced of police tasing a homeless man even while the man was on the ground and appeared to not posing any threat or danger to officers.
The incident had occurred a week after a young man from Long Look, Tortola, had accused officers of using a stun gun on him “for no reason”. In a video circulated in the public domain, the handcuffed young man was tased while also not appearing to be a threat.
The man arrested on September 27, 2020, was also reportedly tased before being placed in handcuffs.
When asked about the latest incident, Mr Matthews said: “As I have stated on many occasions previously, I do not judge officers based on a clip from social media that has no context.”
A young man from Long Look, Tortola, had accused officers of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) of using a stun gun on him 'for no reason' on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
Mr Matthews also disclosed that his ranks are now equipped with body cameras, which would help to determine whether officers are in violation of any law.
“Officers now wear body cameras that capture exactly what happens at the time of an arrest and if a complaint of undue force is made against the police then the body camera footage would be examined as part of the investigation.”
Mr Matthews also said he was unable to make any comment on the video clip “as this is a live case and so far I am not aware of any formal complaint in relation to it.
“You state ‘persons’ have been complaining about excessive force but again the complaints actually reported to the force do not bear this statement out,” Mr Matthews also claimed.
Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask. Don’t tell.