March 21, 2003 – Recently dismissed Police Commissioner Franz Christian said in an open "letter to the editor" on Friday that he harbors "no resentment" toward Gov. Charles W. Turnbull concerning the governor's decision to replace him with former St. Croix Police Chief Elton Lewis.
The change in police administration, Christian wrote, could cause speculation in the community about possible dissent within the department. "I wish to immediately dispel such speculations," he said.
The Police Department has undergone leadership transitions in the past and "will do so again in the future," he said, but the public can be assured that it will "continue to efficiently and effectively serve them during this transitional period."
Police effectiveness has been under scrutiny in recent months. Homicides reached a record high last year, and most of those cases remain unsolved. Carnival Cruise Lines canceled regular calls by two of its ships at Frederiksted, citing ongoing crime against passengers and crew. A drive-by shooting on St. Croix last weekend left a 13-year-old girl paralyzed from the waist down and an off-duty police office also wounded.
Turnbull announced on Tuesday that he had accepted Christian's resignation and had relieved him of duty effective immediately.
Police personnel from Christian to union personnel have cited inadequate funding, low morale and a poor public image as major problems facing the department.
Christian was named Police commissioner by Turnbull in the early weeks of the governor's first term, succeeding Ramon Davila, a carryover from the Schneider administration. Last April, in testimony before a Senate committee, Christian acknowledged that was among police personnel moonlighting under separate contract to provide security at Juan F. Luis Hospital
In his letter, Christian said that as a 20-year veteran of the force and as a private citizen, he will "continue to support and defend the efforts of the department in these difficult times."
The department, he said, is made up of "highly dedicated professionals" who "work long and hard to service the needs of this community." Thanking the government, the private sector and community-based organizations for their support, he urged the public to provide information to assist the police in their investigations. "Crime is not just a matter for the police," he wrote. "It is a community problem."
He professed "nothing but a tremendous respect" for Turnbull. "I have affably accepted the governor's decision to adjust the leadership of the Police Department at this time, and I harbor no resentment," he wrote.
Christian said he knows Lewis personally, and he is "a consummate professional whose leadership ability and style will compliment the Police Department." He said he plans to meet with Lewis soon to apprise him of ongoing projects so as to effect a smooth transition.
As for the news media, Christian said: "Although, we may not have always agreed on the issues, we have at all times shared a mutual respect and understanding."
Christian also had kind words for the police officers he worked with as commissioner. "Your unfailing support is deeply appreciated, and I ask that you continue to demonstrate the same level of commitment and loyalty to my successor," he wrote.
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