Shortly after taking their oaths of office on Friday, V.I. Police Department’s new district police chiefs spoke about their hopes for the personnel in their charge. St. Croix Chief Sydney Elskoe said he wants better relationships between his department and the community, and St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island Chief Ludvig Thomas said he wants to provide a steady hand over the men and women who serve the district.
Elskoe and Thomas officially accepted their duties at a swearing in ceremony Friday on St. Thomas. Associate Supreme Court Justice Ive Arlington Swan administered the oath to the new chiefs, one at a time.
Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor told the gathering seated in a second-floor classroom at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center he valued the humility the two men displayed when he approached them about taking on the role. Whatever the department asked them to do, Velinor said, Elskoe and Thomas said they would do.
As the ceremony continued, about two dozen cadets from the police academy sat in the back of the room. The commissioner called them Thomas’ children because of the work he had done with them in training.
After the ceremony, Thomas spoke about the importance of training new officers and the way the training helps department leaders direct them once they’re on the job.
It’s a thought that becomes more relevant as the subject comes up about the department’s efforts to get out from under a federal consent decree on the use of force policies.
“Coming from the training bureau, I know what’s needed. As it relates to the consent decree, in my view, everything begins and ends with training,” Thomas said. “Yes, we have some ways to go. Yes, we have mindsets to change in an effort to reach substantial compliance. But it’s important for me to note the department has made tremendous strides and we will continue to make tremendous strides.”
Elskoe – who was a police captain prior to his promotion – said he will bring a fresh set of eyes to the oversight needed, making sure police supervisors and officers fulfill reporting requirements in a timely manner.
One of the first commands towards that end, Thomas said, is for all commanders and supervisors to appear at the consent decree compliance hearing on Wednesday, March 4.
The St. Croix chief added he wants to arrange a series of public meetings to introduce himself to the communities around the big island. Each is different and has its own set of concerns, he said.
“The first step is to go into the community itself and have a mini town hall in each community. All communities can’t be painted with a broad brush. Each community has different needs,” Elskoe said.
Between the new police chiefs, there is 65 years of experience in Virgin Islands law enforcement, including investigations, major crimes and executive security detail. Elskoe, with 25 years on the job, also served with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
Thomas – a 40-year police veteran – also has experience in training police officer candidates.