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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, May 20, 2024


Dec. 18, 2001 – Police Commissioner Franz Christian and newly appointed Police Chief Novelle Francis Jr. met with Tutu-area residents on Tuesday as part of an effort to improve police community relations.
Earlier this month, Christian met with residents at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, and the commissioner said Tuesday he expected such meetings to continue.
"We have a whole slew of new initiatives planned," the commissioner said. He acknowledged that relations between the police and residents needs to improve if law-enforcement officials are to meet a mandate from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to reduce crime in the territory by 20 percent.
Francis, who replaced Jose Garcia as police chief last month, said he believes a 20 percent reduction in crime is a realistic goal, but that it will take the support of Virgin Islands residents.
"Crime is everybody's problem," Francis told about 15 residents at Joseph Gomez Elementary School. "Whenever a crime is committed, two or three or more people know what happened. We need them to help, without fear of retaliation."
Several residents and police officials at the meeting said they believe the police need to do a better job of letting people know about programs available to help reduce crime.
The police officials encouraged people to take part in Neighborhood Watch programs, to register cars in a program intended to prevent auto theft, and to take advantage of other services available through the Crime Prevention Bureau.
The area residents in turn encouraged the officers to get to know young people — especially children — on a one-to-one basis as a way of building trust between the police and civilians. They also suggested that police reach out to groups such as parent-teacher associations as a way of working together to reduce crime.
Christian said he is working to build up the numbers of officers patrolling on the streets. He said nearly 20 new police cars arrived on St. Thomas this month and more are on order. He also said he hopes recently implemented salary increases and improvements in equipment will improve morale among officers, and that he is looking at the possibility of opening more police substations as a means to reduce response times.
Police officials acknowledged a great discrepancy between the number of criminal incidents reported and the number of arrests made in those cases. The main way of solving more crimes is to increase the cooperation of the public, Christian said, and that is one of the purpose of the current series of meetings with residents.
"What we're lacking at this time is community participation," Christian said. "Crime is a societal problem, and all of us have to get involved."

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