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HomeNewsArchivesVIPD Commissioner Designate Rebuts Consent Decree Report

VIPD Commissioner Designate Rebuts Consent Decree Report

The V.I. Police Department took issue with a federal monitor’s quarterly report, which once again denounced the department for slow progress on deadlines set forth in a federal consent decree that the territory entered into in 2009 with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Police Commissioner Designate Henry W. White Jr. issued a curt response Friday regarding the Office of the Independent Monitor’s (OIM) quarterly report, which was published on Dec. 23. The VIPD also filed a formal response with the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands as a rebuttal to stand as evidence in contradiction to statements made by the OIM.

The report, which covers the period from July to September, is part of an ongoing oversight by OIM to monitor the VIPD’s compliance with the consent decree. It was entered into by the Virgin Islands, VIPD, and the U.S. Department of Justice in March 2009 to resolve a lawsuit brought by the United States alleging that the Virgin Islands and VIPD violated federal law, by using excessive force, had inadequate training, and failed to establish consistent policies, among other things.

“I appreciate the efforts of all those in the department who have worked diligently to address our obligations under the Consent Decree. It is unfortunate that in many instances the Department has not been given credit for the progress it has made,” White said. "Despite these issues, the VIPD stands ready, and continues to apply its limited resources to ensure full Consent Decree compliance.”

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In similar fashion to the last quarterly report, the OIM’s authors William F. Johnson and Steve Witzel, once again faulted the VIPD for its slow rate of progress, reiterating several times that the Department only has until March 23, 2014, to comply with each provision, and must remain in compliance for two years.

“Almost all of the dates by which the VIPD must substantially comply have already passed without VIPD achieving compliance,” Johnson and Witzel wrote. “Simply put, the VIPD is in clear danger of failing to comply with the Consent Decree before it expires.”

White’s rebuttal, listed in the formal response by the VIPD, expressed frustration with the report, and he referenced a comment by Assistant Commissioner Raymond L. Hyndman to indicate as such.

“I dare William F. Johnson and Steve Witzel to tell the Public which Police Department met substantial compliance within the initial time specified. While it is the VIPD’s intent to come into substantial compliance within the time specified, Johnson and Witzel are fully aware that other aggravating circumstances are hampering the VIPD’s effort in this process,” Hyndman said, according to White.

The VIPD also disagreed with the overall tone of the “Executive Summary” section of the report, which is a lengthy overall assessment of the VIPD’s compliance issues. In one example, Johnson and Witzel pointed out that the OIM was “disappointed” for the lack of participation with leaders on St. Thomas compared to those on St. Croix.

“Their report identifies subjective notions of incompetence, misinformation, and the total operational failure of the VIPD, rather than focuses on the VIPD’s lack of compliance to the black letter law of the Consent Decree,” White wrote.

According to White, the comments are misleading and counterproductive. He said the VIPD believes that the report doesn’t cast a professional light on the operational aspects of the department, which could potentially thwart the efforts of the VIPD to improve the moral within the department.

“This is of great concern to VIPD since, pursuant to Paragraph 96 of the Consent Decree; the Monitor should not disclose sensitive data or non-public information,” White wrote, later adding “VIPD should be considered one territory for analysis. Whether one island is operating more efficiently than the other should not be identified within the report.”

The biggest discrepancy between the OIM report and the VIPD’s stance was the issue of compliance with training. Johnson and Witzel wrote repeatedly that the department has misguided thinking in that it has complied with training provisions.

“The VIPD has not satisfied most – if not all – of the provisions it claims, because from the OIM‘s perspective, the VIPD misguidedly focuses on the fact that it issued a number of policies and provided only some corresponding training (with varying levels of success) to many (but not all) VIPD personnel.”

The OIM report said that in addition to completing training, the VIPD must also:
“ (1) provide adequate training for every issued policy; (2) ensure that personnel who are required to attend training programs do so and become proficient in the relevant policies; (3) enforce compliance with those policies (including disciplining offenders); and (4) regularly assess and rectify any deficiencies in order to substantially comply with the Consent Decree.”

The VIPD disagreed, and said in a press release issued Friday, that the OIM’s method of reporting doesn’t accurately gauge the incremental progress of the VIPD, and gives the mistaken impression that the department hasn’t made any advancement.

“Although the department has completed more than 98 percent of the policy; more than 50 percent of the training; and those policies where the training has been completed are being implemented by the officers, regrettably the OIM maintains that the VIPD is out of compliance,” the release said.

Since 2010, the OIM has issued seven quarterly reports outlining its interpretation of the progress made by the VIPD, many of which are listed on the VIPD website. The full OIM report, as well as the VIPD response, is listed on the VIPD website at www.vipd.gov.vi , under the Consent Decree tab.

“I have also reiterated to all personnel that the Consent Decree is in fact, a court order and that contempt of court issues could arise should the VIPD not shoulder the tasks to meet the Consent Decree mandates", White concluded.

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The V.I. Police Department took issue with a federal monitor’s quarterly report, which once again denounced the department for slow progress on deadlines set forth in a federal consent decree that the territory entered into in 2009 with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Police Commissioner Designate Henry W. White Jr. issued a curt response Friday regarding the Office of the Independent Monitor’s (OIM) quarterly report, which was published on Dec. 23. The VIPD also filed a formal response with the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands as a rebuttal to stand as evidence in contradiction to statements made by the OIM.

The report, which covers the period from July to September, is part of an ongoing oversight by OIM to monitor the VIPD’s compliance with the consent decree. It was entered into by the Virgin Islands, VIPD, and the U.S. Department of Justice in March 2009 to resolve a lawsuit brought by the United States alleging that the Virgin Islands and VIPD violated federal law, by using excessive force, had inadequate training, and failed to establish consistent policies, among other things.

“I appreciate the efforts of all those in the department who have worked diligently to address our obligations under the Consent Decree. It is unfortunate that in many instances the Department has not been given credit for the progress it has made,” White said. "Despite these issues, the VIPD stands ready, and continues to apply its limited resources to ensure full Consent Decree compliance.”

In similar fashion to the last quarterly report, the OIM’s authors William F. Johnson and Steve Witzel, once again faulted the VIPD for its slow rate of progress, reiterating several times that the Department only has until March 23, 2014, to comply with each provision, and must remain in compliance for two years.

“Almost all of the dates by which the VIPD must substantially comply have already passed without VIPD achieving compliance,” Johnson and Witzel wrote. “Simply put, the VIPD is in clear danger of failing to comply with the Consent Decree before it expires.”

White’s rebuttal, listed in the formal response by the VIPD, expressed frustration with the report, and he referenced a comment by Assistant Commissioner Raymond L. Hyndman to indicate as such.

“I dare William F. Johnson and Steve Witzel to tell the Public which Police Department met substantial compliance within the initial time specified. While it is the VIPD’s intent to come into substantial compliance within the time specified, Johnson and Witzel are fully aware that other aggravating circumstances are hampering the VIPD’s effort in this process,” Hyndman said, according to White.

The VIPD also disagreed with the overall tone of the “Executive Summary” section of the report, which is a lengthy overall assessment of the VIPD’s compliance issues. In one example, Johnson and Witzel pointed out that the OIM was “disappointed” for the lack of participation with leaders on St. Thomas compared to those on St. Croix.

“Their report identifies subjective notions of incompetence, misinformation, and the total operational failure of the VIPD, rather than focuses on the VIPD’s lack of compliance to the black letter law of the Consent Decree,” White wrote.

According to White, the comments are misleading and counterproductive. He said the VIPD believes that the report doesn’t cast a professional light on the operational aspects of the department, which could potentially thwart the efforts of the VIPD to improve the moral within the department.

“This is of great concern to VIPD since, pursuant to Paragraph 96 of the Consent Decree; the Monitor should not disclose sensitive data or non-public information,” White wrote, later adding “VIPD should be considered one territory for analysis. Whether one island is operating more efficiently than the other should not be identified within the report.”

The biggest discrepancy between the OIM report and the VIPD’s stance was the issue of compliance with training. Johnson and Witzel wrote repeatedly that the department has misguided thinking in that it has complied with training provisions.

“The VIPD has not satisfied most – if not all – of the provisions it claims, because from the OIM‘s perspective, the VIPD misguidedly focuses on the fact that it issued a number of policies and provided only some corresponding training (with varying levels of success) to many (but not all) VIPD personnel.”

The OIM report said that in addition to completing training, the VIPD must also:
“ (1) provide adequate training for every issued policy; (2) ensure that personnel who are required to attend training programs do so and become proficient in the relevant policies; (3) enforce compliance with those policies (including disciplining offenders); and (4) regularly assess and rectify any deficiencies in order to substantially comply with the Consent Decree.”

The VIPD disagreed, and said in a press release issued Friday, that the OIM’s method of reporting doesn’t accurately gauge the incremental progress of the VIPD, and gives the mistaken impression that the department hasn’t made any advancement.

“Although the department has completed more than 98 percent of the policy; more than 50 percent of the training; and those policies where the training has been completed are being implemented by the officers, regrettably the OIM maintains that the VIPD is out of compliance,” the release said.

Since 2010, the OIM has issued seven quarterly reports outlining its interpretation of the progress made by the VIPD, many of which are listed on the VIPD website. The full OIM report, as well as the VIPD response, is listed on the VIPD website at www.vipd.gov.vi , under the Consent Decree tab.

“I have also reiterated to all personnel that the Consent Decree is in fact, a court order and that contempt of court issues could arise should the VIPD not shoulder the tasks to meet the Consent Decree mandates", White concluded.