80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 2, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesEXTRA COPS, CAMERAS AIM TO KEEP FEST PEACEFUL

EXTRA COPS, CAMERAS AIM TO KEEP FEST PEACEFUL

The head of the Police Department's Zone D Command says crowds congregating in this year's St. John Festival Village will find adequate police protection.
Police on island will have plenty of backup for crowd control and peacekeeping efforts between now and the end of the St. John celebration on the Fourth of July, Lt. Rene Garcia said. Officers from all three St. Thomas zone commands as well as the Crime Prevention, Special Operations, Juvenile and School Safety Bureaus will be on duty at various times, he said, as well as canine patrol personnel.
Garcia is serving his first watch over the village, having assumed leadership of the St. John command early this year. But he is doing it well aware of the violence that marred last year's traditionally friendly, small-village fete. In the final 24 hours of the 1999 festival, a 14-year-old boy was fatally shot and six individuals were injured in shooting and stabbing incidents – three at the start of J'Ouvert and three at the closing of the festival around midnight on July 4, which fell on a Saturday.
The violence that broke out at the start of last year's J'Ouvert jam was linked to the fact that a barge bearing all-night revelers docked in the early morning right beside the village as Jam Band was saying goodnight from the stage to its fans.
As one step toward avoiding that type of confrontation, festival organizers this year have repositioned the stage. Instead of being in the center of the village, with visitors able to move freely around it on all four sides, the raised platform has been pushed back against the U.S. Customs dock, cutting off foot traffic on that side.
St. John Festival Committee chair Leona Smith has vowed that there will be no repeat of last year's violence for Festival 2000.
Garcia said parents have to assume some responsibility for their minor children's involvement in the festivities. "We're advising parents not to send any juveniles up here in the village without any guidance," he said, noting that there will be Juvenile Bureau officers on duty at the site. Regular curfew laws will remain effect, meaning minors cannot legally be on the streets unaccompanied after 10 p.m.
To help police keep an eye on things, security cameras have been installed in and around the main activity areas near the Cruz Bay waterfront. Garcia said he personally inspected the surveillance system Thursday, before the official opening of the village.
Also, he said, agents from the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Marine Safety Division will be keeping a watch on the ports and harbors.
As crowds began to gather Thursday evening for the opening of Daniel's Court, this year's village that is dedicated to retired St. John police officer and community activist Harry Daniel, Smith said she was confident there will be no trouble. "We have the surveillance cameras, and we have the manpower" to keep things from getting out of control, she said.

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
4,756FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
The head of the Police Department's Zone D Command says crowds congregating in this year's St. John Festival Village will find adequate police protection.
Police on island will have plenty of backup for crowd control and peacekeeping efforts between now and the end of the St. John celebration on the Fourth of July, Lt. Rene Garcia said. Officers from all three St. Thomas zone commands as well as the Crime Prevention, Special Operations, Juvenile and School Safety Bureaus will be on duty at various times, he said, as well as canine patrol personnel.
Garcia is serving his first watch over the village, having assumed leadership of the St. John command early this year. But he is doing it well aware of the violence that marred last year's traditionally friendly, small-village fete. In the final 24 hours of the 1999 festival, a 14-year-old boy was fatally shot and six individuals were injured in shooting and stabbing incidents – three at the start of J'Ouvert and three at the closing of the festival around midnight on July 4, which fell on a Saturday.
The violence that broke out at the start of last year's J'Ouvert jam was linked to the fact that a barge bearing all-night revelers docked in the early morning right beside the village as Jam Band was saying goodnight from the stage to its fans.
As one step toward avoiding that type of confrontation, festival organizers this year have repositioned the stage. Instead of being in the center of the village, with visitors able to move freely around it on all four sides, the raised platform has been pushed back against the U.S. Customs dock, cutting off foot traffic on that side.
St. John Festival Committee chair Leona Smith has vowed that there will be no repeat of last year's violence for Festival 2000.
Garcia said parents have to assume some responsibility for their minor children's involvement in the festivities. "We're advising parents not to send any juveniles up here in the village without any guidance," he said, noting that there will be Juvenile Bureau officers on duty at the site. Regular curfew laws will remain effect, meaning minors cannot legally be on the streets unaccompanied after 10 p.m.
To help police keep an eye on things, security cameras have been installed in and around the main activity areas near the Cruz Bay waterfront. Garcia said he personally inspected the surveillance system Thursday, before the official opening of the village.
Also, he said, agents from the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Marine Safety Division will be keeping a watch on the ports and harbors.
As crowds began to gather Thursday evening for the opening of Daniel's Court, this year's village that is dedicated to retired St. John police officer and community activist Harry Daniel, Smith said she was confident there will be no trouble. "We have the surveillance cameras, and we have the manpower" to keep things from getting out of control, she said.