The last several weeks have been tragic in the Virgin Islands. After relative calm in the first quarter of the year, there has been a noticeable up-tick in violence territory wide…and a noticeable absence of the Police Commissioner.
This set of circumstances begs the question, "What is the appropriate response by the head of the department?"
Unfortunately, the head of the Virgin Islands Police Department is not here to answer that question for himself. Instead, the Assistant Commissioner is forced to respond. He has been placed in the unfortunate position of being the person who will be blamed if things get worse, and will not receive the credit if his plan of action is successful. Yet again, he has been left to answer for the Commissioner's shortcomings.
This past weekend there were three homicides. The weekend before, there were four. A month ago, there were six within one week – including the unfortunate incident at Juan F. Luis Hospital. As always, our officers stand ready and willing to respond to this rash of crime and violence. It is our duty to fight crime, and we will do this to the best of our ability not only because it is our job, but also because we are stake-holders in this community. We will do it because we know that with every burglary, armed robbery, rape, shooting, or murder, everyone in the Virgin Islands feels less safe. We will do it because there must not be a perception among current and future visitors to the territory that they will not be safe if they come to the Virgin Islands. We will do it in spite of the challenges that we face within the department; in spite of the fact that we are operating without the benefit of the Commissioner's vision when it comes to crime reduction and prevention; in spite of the fact that we have a Commissioner in absentia, who apparently does not feel the need to return to the Territory to reassure the public, to encourage his troops, and to offer the leadership that he was hired to provide.
What is the appropriate response by the head of the department? He should be here.
Lt. Joseph A. Gumbs
St. Thomas/St. John District
Editor's note: The police commissioner is in the states recovering from knee replacement surgery.
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