June 27, 2002 – The Police Department will create a new Police Tourist Protection Unit utilizing nearly $250,000 in federal grant money.
The grant from by the Law Enforcement Planning Commission is to enable the department to assign six police officers to patrol "hot spot" areas. According to Eddy Charles, the governor's drug policy adviser, the officers will work in areas in both districts that have a history of criminal acts against tourists.
Charles said in a release that the unit will have six vehicles for preventive patrol as well as rapid response to reports of trouble. The unit's officers also will provide information to tourists and naval personnel about areas to avoid while visiting the islands, he said.
The release cited Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards as saying she is pleased that LEPC provided the grant to enable police to focus on tourism-oriented efforts. She indicated that the new program is a successor to the old Tourist Oriented Policing program that utilized police officers on bicycle patrol in downtown areas. The TOP program "was very beneficial in the past," Richards said. "I look forward to its re-implementation."
Repeated instances of crime against passengers and ship's crew on St. Croix were cited as the reason Carnival Cruise Lines discontinued the island as a port of call for two of its larger ships. On April 24, Carnival announced its decision to pull out of St. Croix after having repeatedly warned Richards and police officials in writing of its concerns from last year. The Norwegian and Holland America cruise lines subsequently have followed suit.
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