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Analysis: McCall Taking The Fall

May 12, 2009 — The senate president on Monday called on the governor for the resignation of Police Commissioner James McCall, apparently on the assumption that it's the will of the people. But the public, and the public record, have shown McCall has achieved a level of success unparalleled by previous commissioners.
In his statement sent to the media, Sen. Louis Hill cited McCall's "absolute inability to control gun violence." But the newly seated senate president offered no suggestions as to who or what does have control over the stunning and brazen acts of gun violence plaguing our islands.
Calls from citizens to the talk shows Tuesday morning, and a letter from Krista Schluderman, a member of the Citizens Integration Team (CIT), obtained by the Source, indicated a high level of confidence in the man who took over as commissioner when Gov. John deJongh Jr. took office, after serving as a severely hobbled assistant commissioner during Gov. Charles Turnbull’s administration.
Schluderman wrote a letter to the governor backing McCall, "the one man who has actually made a difference here in our territory." "I ask you to base your decision on what the common people of the territory want, and not what some politician wants," she said.
The numbers are compelling. At a recent Rotary Club meeting where he was the guest speaker, Assistant Commissioner Novelle Francis was quick to tout the V.I. Police Department’s record, saying that never have there been so many arrests and convictions, particularly in murder cases. (See "Francis Credits Citizens With Curbing Crime.")
The government brought 12 murders to trial in 2008; all but one resulted in a conviction. Police arrested 610 people for part one crimes in 2008, compared to 464 in 2007 and 411 in 2006. Police seized 319 illegal guns territory-wide in 2008 compared to 123 in 2007.
It is no surprise that the public is rallying around McCall; he and other police officials have said repeatedly there has been an unprecedented community response in solving crime since McCall become commissioner.
He also kept his commitment to establish and maintain healthy relationships with the Attorney General’s office and the federal law enforcement agencies, which along with community cooperation has resulted in the increase in arrests and convictions.
But some politicians don’t like his style, which tends to be more cop than administrator.
He has also made enemies in the department with his no-nonsense approach to weeding out the malingering and corruption that have stymied law enforcement progress for decades. A case in point: Law Enforcement Supervisors' Union leader Joseph Gumbs has been a vocal opponent of McCall’s, sending disparaging letters to the media maligning the commissioner for questioning the legitimacy of some union members’ disability claims, among other things.
Hill’s statement came on the heels of a misleading editorial in the Daily News calling for his removal. As with Hill’s statement, the editorial, which incorrectly claims that the recent audit of the VIPD evidence rooms implicated McCall in ignoring the situation, offers not one solution or suggestion as to who would be competent and willing to replace McCall and replicate his record of success.
It is no secret that McCall asked for the recent federal audit in order to determine the extent of the problem with evidence. It is also no secret that he has pleaded with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to cooperate in advising local police whenever guns are brought into the territory in suitcases, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears — TSA officials are afraid of the National Rifle Association’s clout and high profile lawsuits.
In other words, the territory’s top cop, who walked into a hornet’s nest willing to take on the hornets, is attacked for it by Hill and the Daily News.
A short trip down memory lane offers a spot reality check on the history of V.I. police commissioners:
Ego-driven Elton Lewis refused the help of FBI forensics officers in the as yet unsolved murders of New York tourists Tristan Charlier and Leon Roberts, saying in effect, "we don’t need no stinking FBI agents."
And Franz "Buffy" Christian was busted for moonlighting as the head of a security agency taking money from the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital for providing protection at the facility in his spare time.
McCall’s resume reads like the story of a serious man committed to law enforcement. He started out as a patrolman in Houston, Texas, 30 years ago and rose to be ombudsman and then assistant special agent in charge of the Charlotte district for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Former Sen. Holland Redfield echoed the sentiments of many on a radio show: The difference in crime in the Virgin Islands today, compared to other times, is the proliferation of guns and the utter breakdown of the family. The police commissioner is attacking the former, and is absolutely unable to do anything about the latter.
"You take away McCall; you let the bad guys win," Schluderman wrote.
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May 12, 2009 -- The senate president on Monday called on the governor for the resignation of Police Commissioner James McCall, apparently on the assumption that it's the will of the people. But the public, and the public record, have shown McCall has achieved a level of success unparalleled by previous commissioners.
In his statement sent to the media, Sen. Louis Hill cited McCall's "absolute inability to control gun violence." But the newly seated senate president offered no suggestions as to who or what does have control over the stunning and brazen acts of gun violence plaguing our islands.
Calls from citizens to the talk shows Tuesday morning, and a letter from Krista Schluderman, a member of the Citizens Integration Team (CIT), obtained by the Source, indicated a high level of confidence in the man who took over as commissioner when Gov. John deJongh Jr. took office, after serving as a severely hobbled assistant commissioner during Gov. Charles Turnbull’s administration.
Schluderman wrote a letter to the governor backing McCall, "the one man who has actually made a difference here in our territory." "I ask you to base your decision on what the common people of the territory want, and not what some politician wants," she said.
The numbers are compelling. At a recent Rotary Club meeting where he was the guest speaker, Assistant Commissioner Novelle Francis was quick to tout the V.I. Police Department’s record, saying that never have there been so many arrests and convictions, particularly in murder cases. (See "Francis Credits Citizens With Curbing Crime.")
The government brought 12 murders to trial in 2008; all but one resulted in a conviction. Police arrested 610 people for part one crimes in 2008, compared to 464 in 2007 and 411 in 2006. Police seized 319 illegal guns territory-wide in 2008 compared to 123 in 2007.
It is no surprise that the public is rallying around McCall; he and other police officials have said repeatedly there has been an unprecedented community response in solving crime since McCall become commissioner.
He also kept his commitment to establish and maintain healthy relationships with the Attorney General’s office and the federal law enforcement agencies, which along with community cooperation has resulted in the increase in arrests and convictions.
But some politicians don’t like his style, which tends to be more cop than administrator.
He has also made enemies in the department with his no-nonsense approach to weeding out the malingering and corruption that have stymied law enforcement progress for decades. A case in point: Law Enforcement Supervisors' Union leader Joseph Gumbs has been a vocal opponent of McCall’s, sending disparaging letters to the media maligning the commissioner for questioning the legitimacy of some union members’ disability claims, among other things.
Hill’s statement came on the heels of a misleading editorial in the Daily News calling for his removal. As with Hill’s statement, the editorial, which incorrectly claims that the recent audit of the VIPD evidence rooms implicated McCall in ignoring the situation, offers not one solution or suggestion as to who would be competent and willing to replace McCall and replicate his record of success.
It is no secret that McCall asked for the recent federal audit in order to determine the extent of the problem with evidence. It is also no secret that he has pleaded with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to cooperate in advising local police whenever guns are brought into the territory in suitcases, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears -- TSA officials are afraid of the National Rifle Association’s clout and high profile lawsuits.
In other words, the territory’s top cop, who walked into a hornet’s nest willing to take on the hornets, is attacked for it by Hill and the Daily News.
A short trip down memory lane offers a spot reality check on the history of V.I. police commissioners:
Ego-driven Elton Lewis refused the help of FBI forensics officers in the as yet unsolved murders of New York tourists Tristan Charlier and Leon Roberts, saying in effect, "we don’t need no stinking FBI agents."
And Franz "Buffy" Christian was busted for moonlighting as the head of a security agency taking money from the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital for providing protection at the facility in his spare time.
McCall’s resume reads like the story of a serious man committed to law enforcement. He started out as a patrolman in Houston, Texas, 30 years ago and rose to be ombudsman and then assistant special agent in charge of the Charlotte district for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Former Sen. Holland Redfield echoed the sentiments of many on a radio show: The difference in crime in the Virgin Islands today, compared to other times, is the proliferation of guns and the utter breakdown of the family. The police commissioner is attacking the former, and is absolutely unable to do anything about the latter.
"You take away McCall; you let the bad guys win," Schluderman wrote.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.