82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 20, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesCOPS, FIREFIGHTERS FACE ‘DEPLORABLE’ CONDITIONS

COPS, FIREFIGHTERS FACE ‘DEPLORABLE’ CONDITIONS

The same shabby building conditions and lack of personnel plaguing firefighters and police officers on St. Thomas are affecting their counterparts on St. Croix.
At the second installment of hearings on the state of emergency services in the territory on the Big Island Tuesday night, members of the Senate Government Operations Committee essentially heard a replay of woes from the night before on St. Thomas.
Police Commissioner Franz Christian told of the "deplorable conditions" workers in the department’s motor vehicles division face at police headquarters in Golden Grove. The cramped "temporary" trailers and lack of basic amenities have been used to house the division since Hurricane Hugo struck St. Croix in 1989 and were the impetus for several job actions last year.
"I thought it was bad in St. Thomas," said Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole. "It’s worse here."
Additionally, the Patrick Sweeney Headquarters Building itself is in need of renovations. On the positive side, Christian said St. Croix will receive 20 new patrol vehicles shortly.
Raymond Kean, a 10-year police veteran now working as an investigator, denounced the budget shortfalls in the territory's entire criminal justice system, saying that cases taken to the Attorney General’s office are often dismissed because of a lack of staff there.
"When you’re a victim you can’t understand this," Kean said.
Although he didn’t say it outright, Kean suggested to senators that cuts should come from other places in the government – like the Legislature. He said being a cop is like working in a "concrete jungle" where snap decisions are made daily in order to deal with criminals armed with Uzis and AK-47s.
"I know I’m making more decisions than you and you and you," Kean said, pointing to senators at the hearing. "I don’t have 14 people to turn to."
He then assailed cuts that leave officers without proper equipment, including vehicles and bullets.
"In 10 years I've never had a bullet-proof vest," Kean said. "The department doesn’t give money for bullets. But I do buy mine and if I shoot someone then I’m liable. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t."
Fire Services Director Pedro Encarnacion said his department had 37 vacancies. Meanwhile, those on staff must deal with a severe lack of equipment, including boots, helmets and bunker coats, as well as stations with faulty wiring and plumbing and rodent infestations.
"The deplorable state of our facilities are in need of immediate attention," he said.
At the hearing, a host of businessmen from St. Croix trucking companies and 20 truckers blasted a police program aimed at insuring the road-worthiness of large vehicles. The Motor Carrier Program is federally funded and uses six officers, Christian said.
But the truckers said they were never given guidelines to help them comply with the program, therefore they are constantly being pulled over and cited by what one company owner called "bandits." Truckers said that when they are pulled over for lengthy amounts of time it affects their bottom lines.
"We’re being treated as criminals," said business owner Lloyd Daniels. "The energy spent on this could be spent on something else."
The truckers asked Christian to convene a meeting between police in the Road Carrier Program and business owners so that a clear interpretation of the laws can be made and complied with.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,717FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
The same shabby building conditions and lack of personnel plaguing firefighters and police officers on St. Thomas are affecting their counterparts on St. Croix.
At the second installment of hearings on the state of emergency services in the territory on the Big Island Tuesday night, members of the Senate Government Operations Committee essentially heard a replay of woes from the night before on St. Thomas.
Police Commissioner Franz Christian told of the "deplorable conditions" workers in the department’s motor vehicles division face at police headquarters in Golden Grove. The cramped "temporary" trailers and lack of basic amenities have been used to house the division since Hurricane Hugo struck St. Croix in 1989 and were the impetus for several job actions last year.
"I thought it was bad in St. Thomas," said Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole. "It’s worse here."
Additionally, the Patrick Sweeney Headquarters Building itself is in need of renovations. On the positive side, Christian said St. Croix will receive 20 new patrol vehicles shortly.
Raymond Kean, a 10-year police veteran now working as an investigator, denounced the budget shortfalls in the territory's entire criminal justice system, saying that cases taken to the Attorney General’s office are often dismissed because of a lack of staff there.
"When you’re a victim you can’t understand this," Kean said.
Although he didn’t say it outright, Kean suggested to senators that cuts should come from other places in the government - like the Legislature. He said being a cop is like working in a "concrete jungle" where snap decisions are made daily in order to deal with criminals armed with Uzis and AK-47s.
"I know I’m making more decisions than you and you and you," Kean said, pointing to senators at the hearing. "I don’t have 14 people to turn to."
He then assailed cuts that leave officers without proper equipment, including vehicles and bullets.
"In 10 years I've never had a bullet-proof vest," Kean said. "The department doesn’t give money for bullets. But I do buy mine and if I shoot someone then I’m liable. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t."
Fire Services Director Pedro Encarnacion said his department had 37 vacancies. Meanwhile, those on staff must deal with a severe lack of equipment, including boots, helmets and bunker coats, as well as stations with faulty wiring and plumbing and rodent infestations.
"The deplorable state of our facilities are in need of immediate attention," he said.
At the hearing, a host of businessmen from St. Croix trucking companies and 20 truckers blasted a police program aimed at insuring the road-worthiness of large vehicles. The Motor Carrier Program is federally funded and uses six officers, Christian said.
But the truckers said they were never given guidelines to help them comply with the program, therefore they are constantly being pulled over and cited by what one company owner called "bandits." Truckers said that when they are pulled over for lengthy amounts of time it affects their bottom lines.
"We’re being treated as criminals," said business owner Lloyd Daniels. "The energy spent on this could be spent on something else."
The truckers asked Christian to convene a meeting between police in the Road Carrier Program and business owners so that a clear interpretation of the laws can be made and complied with.