Feb. 27, 2004 – Twelve St. Thomas-St. John district Police Academy graduates — four women and eight men — marched smartly through the bright Friday morning sunlight, eyes straight ahead, shoulders squared, to receive the certificates which made the recruits of the Class of 2003-1 bona fide Virgin Islands police officers.
Mixed with the smiles of the hundred or so guests attending the ceremony were tears of joy and pride. Two generations of the Bryan family, grandmother Cecile Bryan and mother Heidie Legott, looked on benevolently as 27-year-old Cassandra Vincent became a member of the force.
It was a memorable moment in the graduates' young lives, and they were very aware of the fact. The class president, Jason Callwood, told his colleagues: "We are going to change the image of the V.I. police. We won't be put down by the negative press … We will serve with pride and dignity and take seriously our responsibility to protect our islands. We will be sure to serve with character — especially when no one is watching."
The graduates received traditional accolades mixed with some stern advice.
Police Chief Novelle Francis Jr. told them that they face "a challenge of immense magnitude." He added: "You must have compassion. Remember, you have the right stuff."
Retired police Capt. Vancito E. Gumbs reminded them that police work is community work. "Stop, walk and talk with the community," he said. "That is how you bring about an attitude change."
They were told by Police Commissioner Elton Lewis that "you have to be willing to serve with justice and impartiality as your compass, not emotions." Lewis told them to remember his admonitions as they carry out their duties, "which, by the way, start this Sunday."
Territorial Court Judge Rhys S. Hodge administered the oath of office. Lewis and Francis handed out certificates of completion and presented individual awards.
The class also heard words of pride and congratulations from Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, in his capacity as acting governor while Gov. Charles W. Turnbull is off-island on vacation. After his address, Richards told the audience with a smile: "Look at them — they even sit at attention."
After a rigorous 26-week training program and the solemn ceremony, the graduates beamed as they received hugs and good wishes. William Harvey Jr., the Police Academy training director, said the class started out with 18 members, "and 12 made it." He said it is normal in each class that some candidates don't survive the exhaustive training.
Training for a new class of recruits is to begin on St. Croix next week.
Among others offering congratulations on Friday were Senate Vice President Lorraine Berry, speaking on behalf of Senate President David Jones; and Sens. Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Shawn-Michael Malone.
The graduates in addition to Callwood are: Gregory Coward, Thomas Hegarty, Jon Huyghue, Rudolph Hyndman, Ebony Maynard (class secretary), Tremain Maynard (class vice president), Delarisse Penn, Francisco Rivera, Aisha Smith, Cassandra Vincent (class treasurer) and Vernon Williams. The Maynards are unrelated..
All will serve with the Police Department except for Huyghue, who will join the Port Authority police.
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