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Monday, November 28, 2022
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VIPD Moving to Four-Day Work Week

The V.I. Police Department will be implementing four days of 10-hour shifts for sworn police officers in the territory, Police Commissioner Henry White Jr. confirmed Wednesday, saying the move will improve public safety by increasing police presence on the street.

Police union officials have opposed the change.

In a statement Wednesday, White tried to assuage rank and file concerns, saying the move will actually make life easier for officers, while getting more officers on the street at time when the police force is short on staff.

"It has been well documented that the police force is being constantly depleted by retirement and attrition as well as temporary reductions due to officers on short or long term sick leave. Increasing officers’ shifts will better address the needs of the community at a time when safety concerns are heightened," White said.

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According to White, the change would have police officers working 40 hours in four days with three consecutive days off. "This gives officers a longer down time to rest and be with their family," he said.

The shift change will include all sworn personnel, not just patrol officers, according to White, who said he will meet Thursday with St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix Law Enforcement Supervisors Union and Police Benevolent Association representatives to discuss the changes.

"Nothing will be implemented until I have a chance to sit with the union and dialogue with them. Their input and suggestions will be considered before we move forward," White said, noting the change is important, in light of short staffing and increasingly brazen acts of violence in the community.

"At a time when shooters are emboldened enough to take on police officers, including a police chief, it’s clear we need more coverage,” White said. “As police officers, this is what the public expects us to do."

White also addressed public criticism from Cpl. Elroy Raymo, president of the St. Thomas-St. John PBA, over rising medical bills and insufficient medical insurance coverage for Officer Colvin Georges, who was gravely wounded by gunfire May 26.

"Raymo should realize that these issues are not unique to the VIPD," White said, elaborating that
insufficient insurance coverage was a serious problem for police as well as all V.I. government employees facing hazardous duty.

"VIPD officers are fully aware issues with the government insurance and Workers Compensation are systemic to all Class 3 hazardous duty employees across several government agencies. Any of these employees, no matter what agency they serve, when faced with debilitating, long term injuries, will face the same restrictions."

White said the V.I. Senate acknowledged these systemwide shortcomings and recently moved legislation to mitigate these issues for all affected employees. That bill, passed in session last week, increased Workers Compensation for hazardous duty employees from $200,000 to $750,000.

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