Feb. 3, 2004 – While vowing "not to throw gas on the fire," Sen. Lorraine Berry is launching an all-out investigation of the Police Department at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 in the Senate chambers on St. Thomas.
Berry has invited virtually all the top police brass, along with police union representatives, to testify before the Public Safety, Judiciary, Homeland Security and Justice Committee, which she chairs. In a Tuesday release, she pledged that it will be a no-holds-barred meeting.
"Everything will be on the table … no issue will be considered too hot to handle, no issue will be shoved under the rug," Berry said in the release. "And this includes Police Commissioner Elton Lewis's allegations of astonishing fraud, waste and abuses that have been allowed to fester like an overflowing cesspit, plus a call by labor leaders for a special inquiry charging corruption in police leadership."
In a letter to Lewis dated Jan. 30, Berry mentions the commissioner's "allegations" which she states that he had made in earlier correspondence to her. The senator said her mission is to "strengthen the department and improve the quality of life, particularly regarding security of V.I . residents."
The day's agenda includes school safety, homicides, sex crimes, burglaries, domestic violence, morale issues, infernal affairs and review of the issues related to the "special inquiry" that the chief labor representatives have initiated.
In her Jan. 30 letter, Berry states, in part: "I am much intrigued by your contention that your pursuit and discovery of massive fraud and waste, and your resultant attempts to purge the department has led to attempts to discredit you." The letter continues: "The allegations and charges made against you are quite serious, and I hope you do not underestimate the damage that will occur if under your leadership fatal errors were made concerning personnel decisions and fiscal management."
Berry submitted to Lewis a list of 23 questions on "burning issues" which she said her committee will ask at the hearing. The questions cover the spectrum from budgetary matters to allegations that some police officers "frequent businesses of ill repute." She submitted another list of 12 questions to union representatives.
Despite the extensive agenda, the hearing is scheduled for just the one day, with a one-hour lunch break.
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