[Letter to the executive editor of the V.I. Daily News and copied to the Source]
I wanted to extend best of the New Year's greetings to you and to raise two issues concerning the police shooting supplement. Mr. Williams [Daily News reporter Lee Williams] and I had a vigorous discussion about whether there should be a federal "takeover" of local homicide cases. I know it would be popular with many segments in the community to concur with this notion but philosophically, I disagree with this and think that necessity is the mother of both invention and development. To this end, I told Mr. Williams that the Virgin Islands Department of Justice has come a long way under the tutelage and leadership of both Attorneys General [Julio] Brady and [Iver] Stridiron. I have never been critical of Attorney General Stridiron's leadership.
My concern is that the statement attributed to me on page 38 [of a Dec. 30 Daily News 44-page supplement on police violence] says exactly the opposite. I showed some of my senior staff the quote and they were horrified and felt that it would set back our relationship with the attorney general and cause distrust between the two offices.
I do not know what can be done to rectify the situation but in the future I ask you respectfully to be more careful in your attributions. In fact, if you want me to type up my answers to reporters' questions and e-mail them to the Daily News, I will.
The second issue is more by way of commentary on the issue of how to solve the problem of unnecessary police shootings. In police work, the single most effective strategy in diffusing potentially lethal situations is through the correct tactical deployment of visible demonstrations of superior force. This could be accomplished in two steps: 1) Ensure that there is an adequate number of patrol officers with mobile tactical team support; 2) Ensure that there is continual tactical team training with a corresponding focus on civil rights. Clearly, Commissioner Lewis is committed to both of these goals and I think your story on page 26 accurately reflects that. However, the training woes will not be resolved until we have a state of the art training facility that could serve the needs not only of VIPD but of all law-enforcement, local, federal and foreign, in the region. This is Commissioner Lewis's vision and I would encourage all responsible voices to join with him in this endeavor.
David M. Nissman
U.S. Attorney, District of the Virgin Islands
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