In the past few weeks there has been much publicity about a problem which has been heretofore been underplayed or ignored by the media, our police force and its heavy handed manner.
In the four years I have lived on St John I have been alternately amused and embarrassed by our own version of the Keystone Kops. The smashed up vehicles parked around the police station lend silent testimony to the professionalism of the force.
We laugh as the police officers imported from St Thomas make what locals would consider a really dumb mistake by following too closely up Jacobs Ladder and having yet another patrol car mashup. St Johnians KNOW to wait till we're sure the car or truck in front of us is going to make it up the hill before we commit. These incidents are regrettable, wasteful, and sadly comic. But of late there has been a nasty turn in the atmosphere.
The incidents with the owner of Woody's over the closing and reopening, the alleged manhandling of a woman at the ferry dock, the couple on the waterfront in St Thomas – these incidents and so many others not as serious and not reported are truly scary.
The policeman who decides that some car waiting beside the Cruz Bay Post Office is "impeding traffic flow" and orders the elderly driver to move on, and when that driver does not understand or hear the command, becomes belligerent and threatens to cite him with the often used "failure to obey an officer," never mind that stopping for a minute or so beside the Post Office is common and is one of the least threats to "traffic flow" in Cruz Bay. These incidents appear to be growing at an alarming pace.
Tonight at a social gathering was the first time I have ever heard someone say that they no longer feel St John is a safe place to live and raise children. They plan to go back to the states when their assignment is finished. Just a few months ago they were considering making their temporary move permanent.
I wonder if my lost wallet that was turned into the police by a hiker really had no money left in it when it got to the police station. I know that the way I was treated at the station when I went to retrieve it made me wonder.
I should not wonder. I should trust the police. That is the way I was raised. You looked up to police. You went to them when there was trouble. They were there to protect you.
Sadly, I do not feel that way about our police. No, not sadly, tragically.
It is one thing for the government to be bankrupt. We can work that out, we can pull together to overcome that as St Johnians so often do. But it is entirely different when our government is morally bankrupt. And when confidence and trust in our police is gone we have very little left. I urge our leaders to get to work on this mess – it is more dangerous than the raw sewage or smoldering landfills they get excited about, and would take less money to fix. Alas, it would take leadership.
Name withheld by request
NOT BEING ABLE TO TRUST POLICE IS TRAGIC
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