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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Commissioner Offers Solutions for Crime Problems

I want to update the community on current developments with the V.I. Police Department. The motivation to do so originates from a couple of perspectives: First, as the leader entrusted for your safety and protection, I'm committed to communicating with you and creating an open dialogue between the VIPD team and the community at large. Second, as an active and concerned citizen of the Virgin Islands I know that it is essential that we all feel that our neighborhoods are safe and protected. Let's not allow a very small percentage of people to negatively impact our lives. The best way to achieve this goal is by truly coming together as a community. There is strength in numbers. We are sisters and brothers; we are moms and dads and grandparents and uncles and aunts and neighbors. The VIPD is committed to providing whatever is needed to help establish safe neighborhoods and the first step is in reducing crime. However, we cannot achieve our goals of safety and protection without you. To that end, I'm asking all of you to end this by launching effective Neighborhood Watch Groups. You are integral to the solution.
The territory is experiencing a law enforcement and public safety challenge, and the community is suffering. My definition of community is where citizens feel empowered to work in proactive partnerships with the police at solving the problems of crime, reducing the fear of crime, disorder, decay, and quality of life. My simple approach to community and leadership is common ownership. I'm asking for your assistance in helping me meet the contemporary challenges of the VIPD by participating in integrating your ideas, time and resources into building a first-rate law enforcement agency. Together we will implement the best practices in every aspect of our police department.
Here's what the VIPD is doing right now to work with the community to protect and serve the Virgin Islands:
I have launched a strategic planning process that calls for citizens to participate in a community-based, sustainable program called, "Community Care" that deals with the issue of preventing crime. This will be a major challenge and I look forward to your help, your support and your influence.
The immediate goals of the VIPD are as follows:
a. To significantly reduce crime
b. To survey the state-of-the-VIPD by internal surveys related to morale, performance and leadership.
c. Increase public participation and gain significant input from the public. 90 members representing St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas participated in focus groups identifying both the short and long-term needs of the community.
d. Establish a Citizens Integration Team (CIT) made up of leaders and community members interested in being integral to the solution.
e. Launch the VIPD's strategic planning process leading to a collaboratively developed strategic plan, performance metrics and accountabilities developed in the total context of the V.I. constituency.
f. Change the culture of the VIPD to a more customer-centered approach to public safety.
g. Establish a communications advisory task group, to assure that the VIPD is remaining close to the customer and making sure we are incorporating "best practices" communications. This will include a range of methods getting the word out from town meetings, VIPD newsletter and a significantly enhanced VIPD website.
I look forward to your help, your support and your influence in meeting the challenges before us. I cannot do this alone. Your involvement is paramount to the success of the VIPD and to improving the quality of life of everyone in the Territory.
That said, here are some immediate preventative measures you can implement that would assist the community and the VIPD: Establish a formal network of communications between you, your neighbors and the police regarding your safety and protection. Simply translated, I'm asking you to watch out for your brothers and sisters and act as the eyes and ears for your neighbors and the police department. If you don't have a formal neighborhood group, establish one. After you have formally established the neighborhood call Officer Riley Waugh and he'll schedule an officer to come out and brief you on the details behind building a safe neighborhood.
These are steps you can take now:
1. Set a date, time and location for the first meeting with the crime prevention officer.
2. Make personal contact with your neighbors, and invite them to the meeting using the personal invitation form provided by the crime prevention officer. Or, just make the call, knock at the door, introduce yourself, evangelize the concept.
3. The officer will explain the Neighborhood Watch program.
4. Elect/select a group leader or spokesperson. This is kind of the Security Chief for the neighborhood.
5. At this time you'll exchange names, phone numbers and email addresses. This is critical that all of you can reach each other at a moment's notice.
6. A block location sheet will be developed and distributed.
7. The group leader or security chief is responsible for the location sheet, changes, upgrades and distribution.
8. It will be the responsibility for the security chief to delegate and/or take accountability to update any neighbors missing from the group.
9. Remember, you have to list every dwelling on your block or in your neighborhood. If vacant, write vacant.
10. After the officer checks the information for accuracy the block sheet will be distributed to all group members.
What's it take to be a Neighborhood Watch Group?
1. You must have two training meetings.
2. 50 percent of the residents must participate.
3. If 50 percent participation is not met the group will be issued Neighborhood Watch stickers in-lieu of Watch signs.
4. Block location sheet must be 100 percent completed.
5. Must have one annual re-certification meeting.
6. Block security chiefs will be responsible for re-certifying.
7. You must have an alternate security chief/group leader.
8. Groups are encouraged to have bi-weekly and/or weekly meetings.
You will receive instructions on:
1. How and when to report suspicious activities to 911
2. Dialing in an emergency 911
3. A crime in progress 911
4. A serious medical situation 911
5. All fires 911
6. Dialing Tel-A-Crime 778-2300 or 774-7400
a. A crime not in progress
b. Immediate arrest is unlikely and the suspect (s) have left the scene
c. No injuries are involved
7. Dialing your local precinct station
a. Noisy parties
b. Barking dogs
c. Abandoned or stripped vehicles
d. Youths playing ball in the streets
e. Fireworks, hot rods or mini-bikes
f. Parking and other minor complaints
8. Dialing police information 778-2211
a. General police information assistance. Familiarize yourself with the Neighborhood Watch numbers, police information, 778-2211, and crime prevention numbers 778-1001.
9. Operation Identification
a. Mark all items that are easily movable and salable of value
b. Make a good record of your belongings and even make digital photo records if available.
c. Record serial numbers
10. Home Security
The VIPD will recommend cost effective security measures to significantly reduce your vulnerability.
11. Self-Protection
You'll be taught to quickly recognize potential dangers on the street, in the home, and while driving your car, and react accordingly.
12. Auto Theft
Learn to reduce the changes of auto theft or at least minimize those chances.
13. Victim Assistance
Each block chief and alternate will learn problem identification and facilitate the information referrals to appropriate agencies.
Here are some general safety rules and ideas that will greatly reduce your vulnerability:
1. Keep windows and doors locked even when you or your family is home.
2. Update locking hardware on your entry doors.
3. Ensure that the window air conditioners are not easily removable from the outside.
4. Keep drapes and shades drawn duri
ng evenings and at night so as not to entice intruders.
5. Remove shrubs and trees from in front of windows you don't want potential intruders to have a place to hide.
6. Replace old, easily breached windows with heavy-duty replacement windows that have the ASTM* structural forced entry certification.
7. Install new heavy-duty basement windows.
8. Install window with laminated Armor Glass when building a new home or replacing your windows.
9. Replace your entry doors with metal or fiberglass doors with peepholes.
10. Replace old patio doors with new, more secure models.
Your Local Police Precincts
St. Croix
Ancilmo Marshall Command 773-2530
Villa La Reine
Ann Schrader Command 778-9157
Golden Grove
Patrick Sweeney Headquarters 778-2211
Hannah's Rest
Wilbur Francis Command 772 2800
St. Thomas
Criminal Justice Complex
Richard Callwood Command 774-2211
Mariel Newton Command 775-3445
Bassanio David Command 774-3445
St. John
Cruz Bay
Leander Jurgen Command 776-7715

New directions of the VIPD begin with acknowledging we have an extraordinary challenge. A challenge based in both making the department more effective with what it has and the challenge of having the resources necessary to meet the growing demands of our customer, you. We've acknowledged this and we're moving ahead with courage and rapid response.
New directions include team and trust building internally and externally. New directions involve listening more and moving ahead with small, realistic steps gaining momentum and that trust.
We have launched a strategic planning process that can be defined by collaboration, accountability, measurability, performance, customer service and pride. The VIPD s primary focus in providing safety and protection is becoming a customer-centric organization combined with common ownership.
The majority of the VIPD are embracing the fact that they are the owners of the plan, the owners of their individual performance and consequences. Yes, there is skepticism internally and externally. That is normal when change is involved. This won't happen over night. However, you will experience real time change in the short-term. With your assistance the VIPD can overcome the healthy skepticism. I look forward to your partnership. Please remember that we're focusing on moving forward. We've heard you and we're interested in continuous improvement communications. However, meeting your needs will be achieved more effectively if you provide us with solutions too.
If you have ideas and input that can accelerate our planning process please feel free to contact: Officer Riley Waugh, 340-778-2211rileywaugh@vipowernet.net, our strategic planning point person. You can also contact our Communications and Community Relations Officer, Sgt. Thomas Hannah, 340-778-2211,tshann@hotmail.com.

Editor's note: Elton Lewis is the Commissioner of V. I. Police Department.

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