Oct. 3, 2008 — The V.I. Police Department has recently had some difficulties getting enough new qualified police officers out on the streets. But the department officially increased manpower by 11 Friday with the addition of civilian auxiliary police officers. The new auxiliary force will be out on the streets Monday riding with veteran VIPD officers.
"We will see the fruits of their labor with increased protection evident," said James H. McCall, police commissioner. "They fill an essential role in the department and the V.I. community. Their role is to ensure safety in the community."
A graduation and swearing-in ceremony was held on St. Croix at the Divi Casino Palm and Dolphin rooms with Judge Darryl Dean Donohue Sr. administering the oath of office. More than 150 friends, families, dignitaries and government officials were on hand to mark the occasion. They watched with pride as the new officers marched in cadence to "let the four winds blow — east to west, VIPD is the best."
"This class has marked a significant milestone since it is the first auxiliary training in over a decade," said Officer Gleston McIntosh, senior training cadre. He told the class even after 18 weeks of training the learning never stops.
"Always push yourselves to do better," McIntosh said.
The auxiliary force is made up of civilians that work day jobs and attended classes for 18 weeks at Patrick Sweeny Headquarters for 20 hours a week. Some of the training was in the use of firearms, physical fitness and academics. Awards were handed out, with Jerome Ashe receiving the Commissioners Award for the highest overall average in all categories.
"We have proven to all that we are physically, emotionally and intellectually fit," said Chantelle Jacobs, class representative. "We are eager to get to work."
According to Oakland Benta, acting police chief on St. Croix, the auxiliary force works a maximum of 32 hours in a two-week period.
The auxiliary officers are compensated at three-quarters the base salary of starting police officers, said McCall.
"We are trailblazers of the auxiliary police movement and we are trailblazers because they are a paid force," he said. "Commitment deserves compensation."
After the officers were sworn in, McCall pinned badges on them.
He told the officers to work to the best of their ability, to be team players, honest, to stay in shape and wear the badge, adding, "Don't tarnish the shine." Novelle Francis, assistant police commissioner, presented certificates of completion to the officers.
Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis gave closing remarks, urging the officers to protect their integrity by doing the right thing.
"You have to earn respect — you can't demand respect," Francis said.
Last week 22 auxiliary officers took the oath on St. Thomas.
Members of the St. Croix graduating class:
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