Oct. 8, 2002 – Government House is taking brand new police cars away from the officers who need them, according to a union leader representing police supervisors.
Twenty new police vehicles recently arrived in the territory destined for distribution on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. But Sgt. Merlin Christian of the Law Enforcement Supervisors Union said only 16 made it into the hands of uniformed and plainclothes officers.
Of the cars that are "slated for patrol, the unmarked vehicles," she said, "three went to government house." And "one is on hold."
Government House spokesman James O'Bryan said the team that provides security for the governor and the lieutenant governor gets new police cars whenever new ones arrive. "Executive security falls under the commissioner of Police, and it's a common practice," he said.
But Christian, who is secretary and public relations person of LSEU Local 18, said new vehicles are covered in the union contracts for both police supervisors and uniformed officers, and reducing the number of cars delivered under the agreement is a contract violation.
The diversion of four vehicles meant that Zone C Command, serving the eastern end of St. Thomas, got three new cars instead of five, Christian said, and Zone D Command on St. John also got shortchanged. "These cars are run 24 hours a day," she said. "That's four less cars to respond to cases."
The LESU contract calls for supervisors to get new cars after three years or 80,000 miles, which doesn't take long, Christian said, because the patrol cars are constantly on the road.
O'Bryan said he doesn't see any controversy in the assignment of the four new vehicles to Government House security. When the new cars come in, the old ones are sent back to the Police Department, he said, adding, "I don't see a particular concern."
Christian said union leaders had an opportunity to bring the matter up at a meeting with the governor several days ago but decided to give more thought to how to address the matter.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.