Oct. 11, 2002 – The Police Department has taken possession of $1.3 million worth of new marked and unmarked vehicles — 28 cars and motorcycles for the St. Croix district and 27 for St. Thomas-St. John.
In a ceremony Friday at the Patrick Sweeney Headquarters on St. Croix, 15 Chevy Trailblazers and two Harley Davidson motorcycles were presented to Police Chief Novelle Francis by Police Commissioner Franz Christian.
The vehicles were purchased with a $1 million General Fund appropriation by the 24th Legislature and a grant of more than $300,000 from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission, Christian said.
In addition to giving the department "much-needed equipment," Christian said, the new police cruisers "will keep us in good light with the unions to satisfy contractual needs for safe and adequate equipment."
Last week on St. Thomas, an officer of the Law Enforcement Supervisors Union complained that of 20 recently arrived police vehicles intended for patrol use in the district, three were diverted to Government House for the security details of the governor and lieutenant governor and one was "on hold." It was not immediately clear whether those 20 vehicles were part of the new equipment Christian and Francis were referring to on Friday. (See "Police: Cars meant for patrol go for security".)
According to Francis, "Vehicles are something that we have been in need of for months." He said the additional equipment will give police officers quicker response time and higher visibility in communities, adding that he hopes this will serve as a deterrent to criminal activities.
Francis said the motorcycles, purchased with Highway Safety funds for $13, 000 each, will be issued to the Traffic Division. The bikes are equipped with sirens, warning lights and loud-speaker systems. Local police instructors who received training in their handling on the mainland will train three or four patrol officers in such things as safe operation at different speeds and maneuvering through and around obstacles.
Lt. William Harvey, Traffic Investigation Bureau commander, said the motorcycles will be used primarily for the enforcement of traffic laws, including speed limits. The bikes can reach 120 mph, he said, but "there won't be a need for us to travel at the high rate of speed."
Francis noted that nationwide, patrol unit traffic stops in many cases have led to arrests of wanted individuals and persons found to be in possession of illegal weapons and drugs.
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