Feb. 24, 2004 In an effort to crack down on gun crimes and reduce the number of illegal guns in the territory, Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative with the Department of Justice, recently launched a high-profile media campaign.
Throughout the Virgin Islands, billboards can be seen in high-traffic areas of the community, and local radio spots are also touting the message, "Hard time for gun crime."
One radio spot features the voice of world-renowned attorney Johnnie Cochran stating, "If the prosecution can't build a convincing case, a good attorney can get you out of it. If evidence is suppressed or tampered with, a good attorney can get you out of it. But if you have a prior felony conviction and you're caught with a gun in your possession, not even I can get you out of it."
Billboards are also promoting the number 776-4867 (PSN-GUNS), which connects callers round the clock to "special" gun squads , where they can report illegal gun activities anonymously.
Barry Broome, a member of the PSN's Community Outreach Program, which is in charge of the media campaign, said Monday that the campaign was made possible due to a grant received from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is a federally funded, nationwide program that consists of five core elements: partnerships, strategic planning, training, outreach and accountability.
The program began in the Virgin Islands in April of last year. Since its inception, the V.I. Police Department and officers within other law enforcement agencies have received training. Police Commissioner Elton Lewis chairs PSN's executive committee.
"Behind terrorism, [reduction of gun crimes] is the number two mandate of the U.S. Justice Department," Broome said.
Broome said PSN cities across the nation have seen a 30 percent reduction in gun crimes such as armed robberies, and he feels confident that the program will make a difference in the Virgin Islands.
"If this program is pursued by our law enforcement agencies, [residents] should expect to see a reduction in gun crimes," Broome said.
Currently, about a dozen cases are working their way through the court system, Broome said, because of the initiative.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.