Oct. 26, 2004 — St. Croix may be getting some extra help to fight crime from an organization born on the tough streets of New York City. The Anti-Crime Task Force has invited members of the world-renowned Guardian Angels to St. Croix to establish a chapter on the island. The team will be speaking at schools, to Parent Teacher Association members and Police officials.
In a press release from New York issued Monday, Arnaldo Salinas, one of the founding members of the Guardian Angels, said he and another members of the organization will be arriving on St. Croix Tuesday to "galvanize communities to work with law enforcement to bring about a positive change."
In a telephone interview Monday night with the Source, Salinas, a senior director of the organization, said the Guardian Angels started in 1976 in the Bronx as a neighborhood cleanup effort that grew into a worldwide movement of trained volunteers who claim responsibility for the neighborhoods they live and work in. Salinas believes people have a "moral and ethical responsibility to their community." Salinas admits that in the beginning the organization was controversial.
"We were mistrusted by the police and the government," Salinas said. Today the Guardian Angels are a respected group with chapters in several countries, including Japan. "We just started a chapter in Puerto Rico," he said.
According to Salinas, the Guardian Angels is a vehicle for people to stand up and be counted. Salinas said the all-volunteer organization provides training to communities to assist in taking control of their neighborhoods and schools. "This is not a new idea," Salinas said of the aim and mission of the Angels: "it's just a new twist. Crime is a multifaceted, ferocious animal that has to be attacked from all levels."
Last week, the St. Croix Anti-Crime Task Force hosted representatives of a company that hopes to establish a mounted patrol to police the beaches and towns. (See "Horses Could Help in Island's Fight Against Crime"). The organization conducted a feasibility study and met with community and government officials.
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