Telephones Down at Magistrate Division

The Judicial Branch Office of the Administrator of Courts advises the public and the Virgin Islands Bar that the Magistrate…

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Three events are slated for the opening of the school year – V.I. Fathers Back to School Barbecue and Fun Day on Saturday, Aug. 27; the Back to School Days of Prayer on Saturday , Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4; and the V.I. Fathers March on Sept. 6, the first day of school for public schools in the territory. Organizers are encouraging fathers to take their children back to school starting on the first day.

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2017-01-18 21:39:04
Op-ed — St. Thomas
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Statement by Police Commissioner Henry W. White Jr.

V.I. Police Commissioner Henry White Jr.

I returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday afternoon, May 26, following my attendance at the 27th Annual Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) General Meeting and Conference in the Bahamas. Later that evening, Virgin Islands Police Department officers were conducting a crime fighting initiative in the Contant area of St. Thomas where a young Hispanic male had been killed the previous day. The officers came upon an armed individual whom opened fire on them resulting in the wounding of two of our officers. The suspect was shot and killed in the return fire.

At the moment one officer, after a stay in the hospital, is recovering at home. The second officer is in critical condition after being life-flighted to an off-island hospital. I, and members of the VIPD, have responded to the needs of the families of the wounded officers and will support each of the officers with all that is within our power as we offer prayers for their recovery.

I want it clearly understood by ALL that the VIPD will be even more diligent in their mission to deliver lawful and effective service in the Territory 24/7.

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As I stated earlier, I recently returned from the Caribbean Commissioners’ Conference where the theme was “Transforming National Success into Regional Action: Successful Partnership for Effective Policing.”

This theme coincides with my continuous position that it will take team work to address the issues, not only in the USVI but those issues we share with entire Caribbean.

The conception is that drugs, guns and gang violence is plaguing the Caribbean countries, especially and including the USVI. It is important to note that the only member country of the ACCP representing the United States is the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The proliferation of guns in the Caribbean is at an epidemic proportion and the USVI is not excluded.

The Federal Agencies have recognized this and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) have recommended the formulation of Gun Squads to enhance the pursuit of gun traffickers and gun tracing in the USVI.

I intend to form such a squad and to address the ancillary drug and gang violence as well. To do this will require teaming with our Federal Partners in ways we must improve upon.

It is imperative that “Peace Officer” status be granted to ALL U.S. Federal Investigative Agencies to exact the full benefit of their abilities to address the onslaught of criminal activity on our paradise.

Today is indeed a challenge for the VIPD in meeting the mandates of the DOJ/VIPD Consent Decree and at the same time provide the service and safety to the territory that it richly deserves.

We have dedicated sworn and non-sworn members of the VIPD whom will not give in and are looking our support, leadership and direction, as they are also integral members of our community as well.

I do not intend to let them down. The VIPD will forge partnerships not only with Law Enforcement Agencies within the Virgin Islands, but with a number of Caribbean Law Enforcement Agencies as well.

I will be conducting plenary sessions with VIPD officers to ensure this message and additional instructions are provided directly, from me, to the entire body.

To the community, I ask you to please be cognizant of the needs of your VIPD. Pray for the wounded officers and their families. Beconfident that the VIPD stands ready to provide the service that you need and deserve.

Thank you and God Bless the United States Virgin Islands.

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Dear Police Commissioner Henry White,

I am With you 100% that we need to support our police officers. The shooting of the two police officers is showing how much work that need to be done to get control of crime in our beautiful Virgin Islands. I am a strong advocate of supporting the police and its challenges to protect life and property. Over the past six years there have been an influx of killings in which seems to have no end. I have always advocated community policing and developing a strong relationship with the community and foster a relationship of respect and trust to help in addressing the crime in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sometimes we have to look at the past to see where we need to go as we begin to address the crime issues facing the territory.
I could remember in the early 1980's when foot patrol was a regular part of an officer's duty. He or she would have to be on foot patrol for all three shifts and the store owners and community welcomed the police presence. The officers developed a relationship with the store owners and the people who lived in the patrol area. It worked so well, that the store owners knew the officers name and the community would often come to the Christiansted police station and report when crimes were occurring and was not afraid to provide a statement. There were a level of trust the community had with the police officers which seemed to have eroded and we need to get that back.
Have we ever taken the opportunity to survey the community and see what they think is needed to be done to fight the crime in the territory and what might we need to do better in developing a relationship in which a partnership can be made to help with the crime problems we are faced with.
I believe the police department can conduct research to find out what are the problems concerning crimes in our community and use that data to help formulate solutions based on obtainable goals and objectives. The research can be based on the problem, an example of a research topic can be "DOES POLICE DEPARTMENT’S CRIME FIGHTING STRATEGIES EFFECT COMMUNITY POLICING” This research can provide a wealth of data in which the Virgin Islands Police department can use to identify the problems , such as policies, equipment, personnel, structure and personnel changes, funding, training, and community initiatives, which can help the department to developed intervention plans to help fight the influx of crime we are having. There are many grants available for police departments, which can help the Virgin Islands Police Department to accomplish the goals and objectives which can be developed based on the results of the research.
It is important that the department can justify the need for the interventions and the research can help in doing that. The most important issues when implementing intervention programs are to make sure they are achievable and can be continued overtime. It is also important that the programs are assessed to find out if the plans are working, and if not, what are the problems and make adjustments so that the programs can meet the goals and objectives.
I strongly believe in fighting crime with all the resources we can muster, to include using federal officers like you mentioned,but we must not forget the importance of the community who are able to see more than the police can, and obtain information quicker. We have to depend on the community to get a hold of the crime issue, the problem is how are we going to accomplish this task? It is workable and we can do it, if we work together.

Kevin Hewitt

I am so in agreement to everything you have posted here!!!
Our VI's are blessed to have this Commissioner on Board with his vision and leadership skills. Now what we need to do is support him...recognize the incredible needs for Community Policing.
I took this UVI Cell Course years ago. It entails a much needed self-awareness aspect to officer development which moves to developing much needed skills in both effective communication along with problem-solving skills.
THIS is what is needed to truly create effective Policing in our VIs: A move from autoritarian power/control ( I run tings vibes) intervention to conflict resolution which ultimately brings back peace to issues and teaches/role models appropriate resolutions.
Again...Thanks for your great post!
Bonny Corbeil, St. John.

Hello Bonny,
Thank you for the feedback, I have always been an advocate of community policing. Without a strong community and police partnership, we will be beating a dead drum. It takes a strong community involvement to fight crime. You are correct in mentioning the importance of self-awareness as this is a key component in building a relationship with the community. No one likes a bully, and if you have police officers who are perceived by the community as insensitive to their needs, this would create resistance to getting involved as partners in solving the crimes issues.
I also have to agree that effective communication can help the police, one of the worst things the police department can do is not keeping the community informed, especially if the community need the information to help them to do develop trust and respect with the police department. This need to be done on a more personal level, for example getting out the vehicles and walk the community and talk to the residents, not as an enforcer, but as a partner in crime fighting.I always believe in having a human relation approach to policing in which the police develop a relationship that fosters a free flow of communication. When this occurs, the community will not have fear of coming to the police about their concerns or making suggestions to help improve the community in which they live. As a police executive, he or she would want to know if the changes that were implemented to reduce crime are working, and if not why are they not working and what is the best approach to fix them. Who better to talk to about these issues other than the community who are in the thick of the changes and can provide valuable information so that the changes can be made for improvement.

It is important that the police officers do not forget the importance of the community and their ability to make their work more easier. By having self-awareness and being able to reflect on their approach to policing can help the officers create an environment in which the community can be receptive to their needs as they work to keep the community safe. Both the police and community must create a partnership in which they share the same concerns and work together for a solution.

Kevin Hewitt MSCJ