Police will continue to suffer under Governor - Hon Fraser
"During the time of the last Constitutional Review in 2007, a National Security Council was established as a means of bringing input from the Elected Government into the way the territory is policed, but as far as I am concern nothing has changed, because the Governor is still in charge of the force,” Hon Fraser told this news site today, January 10, 2017 when asked for his take on the crime situation hitting the territory.
According to the Opposition Leader, our Police Department should not be in competition for funds in order to provide the necessary resources to keep the peace. “But don't expect that to change as long as they remain under the Governor.”
Hon Fraser added that there is, therefore, no mystery that crime in the Virgin Islands is spiraling out of control. “The Police Department being woefully underfunded, has resulted in inadequate manpower; insufficient patrol vehicles; no patrol aircraft; a marine response responsibility that is by all accounts outsourced; and police officers that are ill-equipped for the 21st century, and thus: led to a force unable to cope with the crimes of the day.”
Police are humans
Whenever crimes are committed in the territory, the police usually come under heavy criticism from the public.
But, according to Hon Fraser, police officers are no different from us. “If you look beyond the uniforms you will see that they have families, and all the trappings that comes with that: Children, Mortgages, Households, Churches, and a desire to live a decent life that will someday lead to a retirement.
“So why do we subject them to do the supernatural, under natural circumstances, and expect the extraordinary?”
Standing by call for police to be armed
Hon Fraser, who has in the past called for police officers to bear firearms, added that the men and women charged with the responsibility to keep the people safe will never be able to control crime until they are in a position to patrol the streets and neighborhoods adequately.
“And the three most important things they are going to need are: 1) Personnel, 2) Patrol Cars, and 3) Firearms. To get these things, the police must have two things: 1) Money, and 2) A change in management's mentality towards firearms,”
The veteran legislator reminded that he has always been an advocate for officers being equipped with firearms, and that is long before “matters had gotten this bad. This philosophy has been partially and halfheartedly employed in certain instances, where at special events a hand full of Officers will show up wearing a firearm. Proof positive, that the need exists.”
Give responsibility of police to Premier
Again expressing a no confidence in the Governor having responsibility for the Police, Hon Fraser said “under the Governor the Elected Government will never feel the necessary pressures to properly fund the Police because the issue of crime is always the responsibility of those in charge. There is no reason the Governor can't give responsibility for the Police to the Premier. It happens in Bermuda, and it has been working for decades. The mechanism for this exists, constitutionally. We need to make our Elected Government responsible for keeping us safe, and if they don’t, hold them accountable.”
Not a big fan of arming business owners
Asked what was his take on arming business owners as a deterrent to robberies, Hon Fraser said he doesn’t see the connection unless the store owners decides to posts a sign on the outside of their business saying that they are armed. “But this might just have the opposite effect, by deterring the customers they rely upon to survive.”
He noted that law enforcement has a duty beyond policing, which includes Customs and Immigration. “It has to do with Border Protection, because last time I checked, the BVI don't produce anything, including guns. So, whose fault is it that the guns are here! When we figure that out, half our problems with gun crimes are solved. It’s not rocket science. None of this is easy, but all of it is achievable. We just have to develop the courage to do what we all know is necessary, but are reluctant to do.”