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OFFICIALS CALL FOR SOLUTIONS TO VIOLENCE

Aug. 28, 2001 – Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II wants Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to form an anti-violence crime task force, and he wants to chair it.
And Sen. Roosevelt David wants Turnbull to declare a 90-day state of emergency and call out the V.I. National Guard to "augment" the local police force.
In separate letters to the governor, James and David both said crime has reached epidemic proportions, and something needs to be done.
In his letter on Monday, James cited the recent spate of violent crimes, particularly those involving police officers, including the disappearance of Cpl. Wendell Williams. "It is time to take action against the perpetrators of these senseless and heinous crimes," he wrote.
David copied his letter to Turnbull to the news media, along with a release saying "Who would have thought that a law-abiding community would be held hostage by the criminal elements?"
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the governor had not responded to either letter, according to Government House spokeswoman Rina Jacobs McBrowne.
David and James both cited recent incidents involving police officers as proof of the dangerous — even "lawless," James said — state of the territory.
In his letter David noted "how successful the government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was several years ago when the National Guard was called upon to help out" with policing. He said using the National Guard would be a short-term solution while a long-term solution is sought.
Calling out the National Guard for peacekeeping purposes has been suggested before. But the idea has always been strongly opposed by those who felt that having armed guard personnel patrolling the streets would send an unwanted message to tourists. But David said Tuesday, "Let us take a temporary economic hit with this suggested application, rather than losing an entire community and its economy."
In June, Police Officer Lennox Lettsome was shot in the neck and back during a shoot-out at the Contant Car Wash on St. Thomas.
Later that month, Williams disappeared on St. Croix. The burned hulk of his black Suzuki Vitara was later found in the bush near Castle Burke along with the spent shell casings of a high-powered weapon.
Two weeks ago, during a daring mid-day robbery on St. Thomas, a Finance Department peace officer was shot with his own gun and robbed as he was carrying two bags of money into the Chase Bank branch in Estate Thomas. And over the weekend, shots were fired at two police officers on St. Thomas after they had stopped a vehicle for running a red light.
Also over the weekend, Kaunda Bryan, 25, the son of Sen. Adelbert Bryan, was fatally shot on St. Croix during an argument over an impromptu horse race.
In his letter to the governor, James said, "These violent and brazen acts of violence have injured and claimed the lives of too many individuals. This type of behavior … must be brought to an end."

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