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Police Week Activities Include Open House in Frederiksted

May 13, 2004 – In continuing efforts to promote community policing and foster better community relations, Police Department officers welcome residents to join them in observing Police Week, which runs through Saturday.
Nationally, it's also Law Enforcement Week.
A listing of events invites participants to "come and relieve your stress." The activities have been dedicated in honor of Officer Cuthbert Chapman, who died last month after having been shot during an attempted robbery in a fast-food restaurant on St. Croix.
St. Croix Deputy Police Chief Herminio Velazquez said officers began the week beneath a dark cloud due to the loss felt over the death of their comrade, who was buried on May 5. (See the St. Croix Source report "Hundreds Bid Farewell to Slain Police Officer".)
"This is not a new activity for us," Velazquez said. "It's just an opportunity to interact with the community in a different manner."
At a town hall meeting in April hosted by the St. Patrick's School Alumni Association, one resident made reference to former police officers who had the status of celebrities among school children because of their interaction in the community. He urged police to seek opportunities to change what he described as their current persona as heavy-handed enforcers of the law.
Velazquez said police personnel look forward to the annual Police Week get-togethers held in every police station. As part of this year's observance, an open house was held on Wednesday at the new Wilbur Francis Command in Frederiksted.
Visitors received a tour of the three-story complex located at the Hannah's Rest traffic light intersection. It houses public affairs, planning and research, insular investigations, labor relations, legal, Project Safe Neighborhood, Youth Investigation Bureau, criminal records, firearms, forensics and crime scene investigation facilities. It also has a booking room, two conference rooms and an area displaying police mementos that serves as the beginnings of a police museum.
At the April town hall meeting, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis told residents the station had been relocated from the Frederiksted waterfront so as to consolidate services, increase efficiency and reduce rental costs.
On St. Croix, Police Week began with a Mother's Day Brunch on Sunday. Other planned activities include softball games, bowling, a Karaoke night and a get-together on Friday at the Violet Damidaux Pavilion in the Patrick Sweeney Command in Golden Grove.
Capt. Floria Samuel, a Police Week Committee member, said the force is "reaching out to our retirees to invite them to these events. This is the opportunity for us to reconnect with them."
During Wednesday's open house, Samuel provided a little history on former police commissioners whose photographs are displayed on a "wall of fame" at the Wilbur Francis Command complex.
Prior to adoption of the Organic Act of 1955, the V.I. police force was divided into municipalities. From 1955 to 1977, there was a territorial chief of police. Later, St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John each had their own chiefs, until the return a territorywide chief several years ago.
The first police cadets were inducted into the force at the then-College of the Virgin Islands in 1968 when Otis L. Felix was commissioner and Charles Groneveldt was assistant commissioner.
Saturday is National Law Enforcement Memorial Day. On St. Croix, the week's observances will end then with a motorcade in memory of officers who died in the line of duty and a Retirement Ball at Divi Carina Bay Resort.
Five officers have died in the line of duty on St. Croix: Leopold Fredericks (1963), Patrick Sweeney (1975), Wilbur Francis (1977), Dexter Mardenborough (1991) and Chapman (2004).
Activities also are scheduled in the St. Thomas-St. John district, including a Retiree Ball Friday night at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort. Messages left for police officials on Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to obtain further information about the St. Thomas-St. John observances were not returned.

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