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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Police Review Said to be Positive Move

Dear Source,
The proposed police review commission is a positive concept. The government is of the people. The people are the government, in theory, but not really in practice. Therefore, any effort to provide more participation of the citizenry in government operation is welcome.
However, as proposed, the police review commission is a misnomer, it really should be named the Law Enforcement Review Commission. The commission, as it is outlined in the bill, as I understand it, will function to receive complaints against all persons involve in law enforcement, not only members of the V.I. Police Department, but all law enforcement agents in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Another feature that needs to be properly defined is the title or concept of peace officer. Is peace officer the same as a law enforcement agent? Once that definition is clear we can then turn our attention to how we will apply the term in the V.I. code and our daily communications.
I would suggest that we add the office of inspector general to the commission. One of the principle objectives of this would be prevention, by regular inspections of the various law enforcement agencies for compliance with the law. The inspections would help prevent abuses and negligence on the part of the agencies involved and keep them on their best performance.
I have no objections to the proposed composition of the commission. It is a starting point, an initial stage, which can be modified as experience indicates. As proposed, it tries to incorporate a cross section of stakeholders from the community. That should be a model for most commissions and boards. I am impressed with the provision restricting the use of government employees. This provision should apply to other boards and commission since government employees normally have other important functions that suffer when they are absent and the boards and commissions fail to muster a quorum because of their absences.
One would think the legislature would have developed corrective measures for the composition of boards and commissions that are ineffective because of their statutory composition. Maybe the Senate, in discussing this commission, would see the light and change the composition of other boards and commissions and improve the operation of our government. There is a big enough pool of persons in the community who would serve, if asked, on the commissions and boards of our government with dedication and integrity.
I congratulate Sen. Lorraine Berry for taking this initiative to address so many issues at once. But I agree with Attorney General Iver Stridiron assessment the bill is too convoluted. It needs to be segmented. Each segment can be considered in detail and given the study it deserves before legislative action. I trust the Senate will heed the attorney general's suggestion, which I endorse. Divide the bill into smaller more compatible segments. That will make the bill more manageable and understandable by the public and even the senators who fail to read bills before acting on them.
J.J. Estemac
St. Thomas, VI

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