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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 30, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesGuilty Verdict Proves VIPD "Not Above the Law," Commissioner Says

Guilty Verdict Proves VIPD "Not Above the Law," Commissioner Says

For the second time in as many weeks, V.I. Police Commissioner Novelle Francis Jr. undertook the unenviable task of announcing the conviction of more VIPD officers for police corruption.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, Francis commented on the Jan. 29 conviction of Capt. Enrique Saldana, former head of the VIPD investigations bureau, and Sgt. George Greene for extorting $5,000 from a suspected drug dealer in exchange for not reporting seized drugs to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
“The accused have been convicted by a jury of their peers,” Francis said Wednesday. “Now it is time for the VIPD to move forward.”
The commissioner’s comments come just two weeks after he announced the conviction of Greene for additional weapons charges, for which Greene faces up to 11 years in prison.
At the time of Greene’s first conviction, Francis warned VIPD officers from straying to “the dark side” and reminded them that their integrity and the public’s trust were what gave them authority as protectors of the community.
He took a more hopeful tone Wednesday as he tried to distance the rest of the department from the recent convictions.
“We are all hopeful that a bleak chapter in the history of the V.I. Police Department has come to a conclusion with the convictions of Enrique Saldana and George Greene,” Francis said in the statement Wednesday.
“This conviction has sent a strong message to the community and to members of the department,” he said.
“As Police Commissioner I will not waver in my commitment to weed out those officers who choose to cross the line into criminality,” he said. “My officers will make the choice – to proudly wear the blue uniform or to shamefully wear the orange jumpsuit. Through this verdict, the community has been assured that police officers are not above the law and cannot hide behind their shield.”
The conviction of Saldana and Greene comes just ahead of at least two more federal trials of VIPD officers for police corruption.
In March, U.S. Attorneys will try VIPD officer Carlton Charlsewell for allegedly obstructing justice and tampering with a juror during a joint federal-VIPD investigation into police corruption.
The long-awaited trial of VIPD officer Jerome Blyden is also scheduled to begin next month. Blyden is charged with racketeering, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime.
The charges stem from Blyden’s alleged role in what federal prosecutors have called “The Enterprise,” whose “members and associates engaged in illegal narcotics distribution, unlawful gambling relating to dog fighting, and acts of violence, including attempted murder…” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
For many among the federal agents and VIPD detectives who head up the joint task force on public corruption, Greene’s Jan. 22 conviction for possessing two handguns with obliterated serial numbers marked the fall of a first domino.
“This is a strong example of the results we all can achieve when we work together,” said Ronald Sharp, U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Virgin Islands, minutes after Saldana and Greene were convicted.
“We are proud of the efforts made by each member of law enforcement, and we will continue to seek to address public corruption in the VIPD or anywhere else in the Virgin Islands,” he said.
Painting the recent convictions as an unfortunate but necessary weeding out of the force, Francis tried to assure the public that, by and large, his officers serve the community well. He carries the burden of both maintaining morale and cleaning house.
“I want to reiterate that the actions of Saldana and Greene do not reflect the actions of the entire police force,” Francis said Wednesday.
“I want to assure the community that the police officers you encounter every day proudly wear the badge and serve this community. They adhere to the canon of police ethics and conduct themselves in a positive and professional manner,” he said.
“As we go forward as a department,” he said, “we pledge to work together with the community to make the Virgin Islands a safer community for visitors and residents alike to live and raise their families.”

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