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Police, Professors Seek to Understand Crime

March 11, 2005 — The University of the Virgin Islands and the V.I. Police Department have joined forces in the hope of getting to the root of the crime problem in the territory.
On March 19, UVI's Social Sciences Division along with representatives of the Police Department will sit head-to-head to discuss the impact of crime on the quality of life in the Virgin Islands.
The Colloquium on Crime, as it is called, will begin at 8 a.m. in the Chase Auditorium on the St. Thomas campus and will be simultaneously shown via videoconference at the St. Croix campus.
Frank Mills, director of UVI's Eastern Caribbean Center, initiated the colloquium and is one of its main organizers.
Mills said the idea of the colloquium came to him early last year when a series of articles concerning the police were printed in one of the local newspapers. Mills said one article in particular was based on a questionnaire given to readers to complete.
"From a social scientist and methodologist point of view, I felt that the articles were unfair," Mills said. "They were biased."
Mills said a true representation of the community's view could not have been given because responses were based on readers who felt strongly about what they had read in the paper, and the questionnaire was not given to a broad sector of the community.
"I felt this was hardly the best way to present this very important social issue," Mills said. "I thought there really ought to be a balanced view."
Mills said he remembered UVI's first colloquium on the same topic that he participated in, which took place in April 1994. "I thought it was time to do another one," Mills said.
He approached other faculty members in the Social Sciences Division about having another colloquium and they agreed.
Mills said this year's colloquium is different from the first one because the Police Department will be sharing its view on crime, as will representatives from various organizations within the territory that deal with victims of crime.
Mills said the police and organizations were not involved in the first colloquium.
"It was strictly a social science affair at the time," Mills said of the first event.
Of the upcoming event, Mills said, "Out of this we hope to have a set of recommendations that we could compile and share with the police so they could have something to work with."
Malik Sekou, chairman of the Social Science Division, said the event took a little more than a year to organize, and he hopes that it would be beneficial to the police and the community.
"If the findings of this colloquium are used in future policy making, then it would have been a success," Sekou said.
Sekou said police officials would share their thoughts on how they view crime and its causes and give "hands-on" experience on combating crime.
Members of the Social Sciences Division, including Sekou, will also present their theories on crime as well as analyses of different crimes that exist in the territory. Sekou said people in the audience would also be able to give their views and recommendations.
Other issues to be discussed include the psychology of criminal behavior, juvenile offenders, crime data analysis, politics and police work, and the criminal justice system.
The event is free to the public, but due to seating constraints, interested individuals are asked to register by Wednesday to attend the colloquium. To register, call Mary Dickinson at 693-1260.

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