Senate President Kenneth Gittens is renewing his call for all peace officers to step in and augment the Virgin Islands Police Department’s force. This week, he called for a return to greater civility and said the territory’s laws must be more strongly enforced.
In the past weeks Mr. Gittens said he has heard growing reports of blatant disregard for law and order, including some violent and disorderly conduct recently highlighted on social media.
“I saw videos of two airline employees fighting at Henry Rohlsen Airport, several physical altercations taking place during the parade in Christiansted, and of a man hurling bricks at a young woman and her children,” he said. “These are all incidents that violate our local laws as disturbance of the peace and disorderly conduct and demonstrate that the perpetrators are not afraid of being arrested. They are incidents that carry fines or jail time and should result in law enforcement taking swift action.”
The veteran lawmaker a former police officer himself, is calling for a unified law enforcement front to combat and disarm the handful of lawless individuals disrupting the community.
“I’m calling for collaboration between local and federal entities and supplemental manpower for the Virgin Islands Police Department,” he said. “I hope that this new administration, and our new police leadership, see the importance of getting more boots on the ground to protect our community. In the same vein, it is time for us to identify and solidify the leadership of the Police Department and the Department of Justice.”
Mr. Gittens said the Virgin Islands has long celebrated its diversity and that there was no place in the community for racism and intimidation of any type, referencing the recent incident whereby a woman reported that a man threw bricks at her vehicle as a result of her inadvertently turning down his driveway.
“I’m calling on all law enforcement officers and the Attorney General’s Office to send a clear message that these types of actions will lead to arrests and prosecution,” Mr. Gittens said.
He said it’s a sad day in the territory when people are comfortable enough to swear or fight in front of police officers without a fear of being brought up on charges.
The senator encouraged heads of agencies with law enforcement arms to step up to the plate and express their willingness to be a part of a joint effort to curb crime. He also encouraged residents to continue being the eyes and ears of the police and to report any illegal activity.