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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Police Commissioner Franz Christian said Tuesday he is seeing increased cooperation between the public and the law enforcement community. Pointing to the recent solving of several major crimes — murders, rapes and illegal drug sales — Christian said his agency is on its way to restoring public confidence.
To that end, initiatives have been launched "in every police zone in both districts" to encourage greater contact with the community by police, Christian said in a mid-afternoon news conference on St. Thomas.
Christian, Territorial Police Chief Jose Garcia, Assistant Commissioner Bruce Hamlin and the department's public information officer, Sgt. Annette Raimer, all participated in the 40-minute meeting with the press.
Christian said aside from recently publicized arrests associated with outstanding warrants, police made 22 felony arrests last month in cases that included rapes and robberies.
"The public has provided us with invaluable information in these cases," he said. "It is a sign that the community's confidence in the department is on the rebound."
The department, he added, "is only as effective as the community it serves. We need everyone's help."
The conference was called to discuss the department's new pro-active stance on community outreach. Christian and Garcia cited the cleanup of abandoned vehicles in the Savan area as an example. Christian also noted the reappointment of Raimer as the Tourist Oriented Police representative.
He said that part of the department's pro-active role is to reach out to communities about "the level of drug dealing that we have been hearing about."
A wide range of law enforcement issues also was addressed:
– Christian expressed satisfaction that the personnel changes in the VIPD Investigation Bureau have led to increased productivity and improved employee morale. The bureau is now headed by Lt. Lawrence Andrews.
– Police are considering installing cameras or other surveillance equipment in high-crime areas as a deterrent.
– The final phase of the reconstruction and renovation of the police wing of the Alexander Farrelly Justice Center is nearly complete. "We will be consolidating most police operations there within another 60 days or less," Christian said.
– The forensics unit has received a $220,000 federal grant for equipment to better process and store evidence. The unit, whose officers walked off the job a month or two ago over poor working conditions, will soon move to new offices at the Farrelly Justice Center's north wing.
– Several officers were publicly commended by the top police officials for "going beyond the call of duty." Officer Denise Frazer of St. John and Jerome Blyden of St. Thomas were singled out for their efforts in helping two citizens. Cpl. Dariel Chinnery was praised for assisting a visitor to the island in need of assistance. On St. Croix Officer Benjamin Alicea was praised for his work in addressing a wave of burglaries in the Frederiksted area.
The efforts will continue, Christian promised, "to enhance relations between the public and the Police Department."

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