Sept. 10, 2005 The Virgin Islands Police Department took delivery of the first set of new vehicles on Friday, the latest acquisition in the agency's quest to bolster its crime-fighting abilities.
The 2006 GMC Envoys were presented to the public and officers of the VIPD in an afternoon ceremony on the grounds of the Reichhold Center. On St. John Julien Harley, St. John administrator, accepted those earmarked for his island also on Friday afternoon. A similar ceremony is being held on St. Croix Saturday.
The sleek, navy blue, four-door SUV's came complete with state of the art police gear: strobe lights, sirens, flood lights, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and shotgun racks. The vehicles also feature a heavy duty suspension and an advanced electrical system. The vehicles earmarked for St.
Thomas and St. John are the SUV's while St. Croix will receive both Chevrolet Impalas and GMC Envoys.
Police Commissioner Elton Lewis beamed as he presented the vehicles to the officers, Territorial Chief Novelle Francis and St. Thomas Deputy Chief Elvin Fahie Sr. "This is part of our commitment to provide you the latest equipment to fight crime," Lewis said. "I have to thank Gov. Charles Turnbull for his constant support of this department, Kenneth Mapp of the Public Finance Authority for structuring the financing of the vehicles and our friends General Motors represented locally by Caribbean Auto Mart." Lewis also had praise for Crowley Liner Services which provided the sea transportation.
Lewis said the fleet will eventually total 400 vehicles, but the initial presentation will include 200 vehicles: 100 for St. Thomas-St. John and 100 for St. Croix. The remainder of the fleet will be delivered over the next two fiscal years. Two police wreckers will also be purchased under a grant from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC).
Francis said that the operations division of the VIPD "looks forward to working with the vehicle fleet, a necessary tool to allow us to patrol the streets in a more efficient way." Both Francis and Lewis said the acquisition of the new patrol units marks the first time that the vehicular needs of the department have been addressed in such a comprehensive manner.
Lewis pointed out that three of SUV's which have been designated for St.
John will be permanently assigned to the Coral Bay community. "I understand the concerns of the residents of that area and I have an appreciation for the time it takes a unit to get from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay," Lewis said Friday, adding, "We have to address everyone's concerns and issues." Lewis also said that he is a few days away from announcing plans for the development of a police substation in Coral Bay.
The marked units will be divided between the various police zones and its divisions including: School Security, Special Operations, Traffic Enforcement and Motor Carrier Safety. Also included in the fleet are unmarked vehicles destined for the department's Criminal Investigation Bureau, Internal Affairs Unit and Major Crime Unit.
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