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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Police, Housing to Work Together to Fight Crime

A memorandum of understanding recently executed between the Police Department and V.I. Housing Authority is meant to improve safety throughout local public housing communities, help police solve crimes and reduce violence, according to officials.
In a release Monday, Gov. John deJongh Jr. said the two agencies will be working together to help produce "drug- and crime-free environments" in an effort to better protect residents of public housing by introducing community policing throughout their neighborhoods.
As part of the agreement, Police and the authority will soon begin reporting crime statistics borne out of the housing communities to the FBI, then use the data to put together policies and procedures, along with intervention strategies, that will help temper the numbers.
In a brief interview Monday, Police Commissioner Novelle Francis said many states are required to produce these kinds of uniform crime statistics, which the territory has fallen behind, but recently picked up the pace, on.
"It’s really meant to capture data coming out of the housing communities in order to help us fight crime there," he explained, adding that since last month, up-to-date information is being produced once again.
The agreement also increases of the presence of police officers in crime hot spots in and around public housing buildings. Officers will also work to encourage residents to get involved in keeping their neighborhoods safe by training in neighborhood watch, community crime prevention and reporting domestic violence, the release said.
Looking at crime prevention through education, youth groups and recreational opportunities for youngsters is also part of the agreement, according to the release.
Surveillance cameras will also be set up throughout the communities, with a command center set up at a central location so the feeds can be monitored, Francis added Monday.
"Based on the information we get from those, we’ll determine where space is needed within a specific housing community for officers to work," he explained. Housing is footing the bill for the command center, and other costs to support the MOU will be shared between the two agencies, Francis said.
Police and Housing will also be holding monthly meetings to continue developing the plans, which also include eliminating abandoned vehicles, getting officers to appear as witnesses in administrative procedures against tenants and helping the authority carry out background checks on prospective tenants, according to the release.
Francis said work on the MOU has gone back and forth for at least a month, with the department putting in place a liaison to work with the authority in tackling certain concerns.
"Since then, the number of calls coming to us from the housing communities have somewhat decreased, and I think it can be attributed to some of the initiatives we’re carrying out in the area, but more importantly because of the collaboration with the Housing Authority, which we hope will continue indefinitely," Francis said Monday.

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