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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024


Dec. 5, 2001 — Novelle Francis, the Virgin Islands' new territorial police chief, is on a mission: reduce crime in the islands by 20 percent.
That was the primary mandate given by Gov. Charles Turnbull when he promoted Francis on Tuesday from St. Croix deputy chief to territorial chief, a position second to Police Commissioner Franz Christian. Francis will oversee the V.I. Police Department on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
Francis, 14-year veteran of the department and a St. Croix native, said he has several short-term goals he wants to accomplish. The first is reducing crime by 20 percent and increasing his officers' morale.
"Crime is not a police problem," he said, "it is a serious community problem facing all of us. It will take more than just talking about it."
Francis said his plan will be to do an "analysis of what is going on" with an eye toward regaining the community's confidence through awareness programs, solvability of crimes, integrity of officers and community policing.
"What I want to do is have a collective approach to crime," he said. "A community approach."
Whether that approach to solving the crime problem in the territory is different than that of former Territorial Chief Jose Garcia is unclear. Garcia was unceremoniously booted from his post last week by Christian without any explanation. Garcia, a St. Thomas resident, later said he believed the move was politically motivated.
At Tuesday's press conference announcing Francis' promotion, Turnbull refused to say why Garcia was ousted. He said that as governor, it was his responsibility to ensure the safety of the territory's residents.
"At this time, I determined Deputy Chief Novelle Francis should be elevated to serve the people of the territory," Turnbull said. He later said that "politics play a small part in this administration."
One factor in the shakeup may have been the lack of arrests in the recent homicides committed on St. Thomas under Garcia's watch. Francis said changes have already been made in the leadership of the Criminal Investigations Bureau on St. Thomas.
Christian pointed out that one person cannot effect radical change in the department. Asked how that change will occur, Christian said it will come through rehiring retired police officers to curb staffing shortages and using "community policing to assist us in solving some of these crimes."
Francis' replacement as St. Croix deputy chief is Lt. Angel Santos, a 28-year veteran of the department.
Turnbull on Tuesday also announced the appointment of Sgt. Angelo Hill as deputy chief for St. John. Hill previously served as a deputy chief and assistant police commissioner. St. Thomas Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty remains in his position.
Above the various chiefs in the department are Commissioner Christian and Assistant Commissioner Bruce Hamlin.
"I call on the public to support our new law enforcement team by providing them with critical information necessary for them to do the job of protecting the public, our businesses and homes," Turnbull said. "As has been said quite often before, law enforcement is everybody's business."

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