April 18, 2005 – Elton Lewis, V.I. police commissioner, told the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Monday that 39 new police vehicles were on the way to the Virgin Islands, but he didn't hold out a lot of hope for getting the "at least 100 officers" he wants.
The vehicles are in Florida getting painted and radios installed. Lewis said they should be here by the end of May.
That was the good news, the bad news was that the proposal being made for the next budget year by President George Bush would cut by 56 percent funds used to fight drug trafficking in the Caribbean. Lewis said this would have "a significant effect" on what his department can do. He said the recent raids on 35 marijuana plots on St. Croix could not have taken place without those federal funds.
Also, he voiced worry over what local funds he would be receiving from the V.I. legislature. He said that he would be making a "realistic" budget request to the legislature, adding "but given the budget restraints, I don't know what will happen."
As for Bush's proposal, he said many in and outside the Virgin Islands were lobbying against it, and he was hopeful it would not pass.
In his update given at the Energy Restaurant at the V.I. Family Sports and Fitness Center, Estate Beeston Hill, he said his department's five-year strategic plan was almost complete and would be unveiled in the next few weeks. He said when he became commissioner in March 2003, "There was no plan." He said this plan would "chart the direction" of the department whether he is at the head of it or not.
Also, to be unveiled in the near future, is a new police department Web page. Lewis said the department's present Web page was not informing "The public about everything we should be informing them about" and that is why he called for it to be refurbished. (See www.vipd.gov.vi/).
He said that more and more areas of the police department are being computerized, but admitted getting everyone trained in the technology was difficult. He said the department would soon have its own computer lab for training purposes.
He said the department is also getting more involved in other areas of training leadership, ethical behavior, and investigative techniques.
The Omnibus Justice Act of 2005
passed by the legislature in March makes dark tinting on automobiles illegal. Lewis has had staff meetings about how to enforce the law. First, he said, everyone has to be educated about what the law means. He said many officers are probably not in compliance with the law. He said they will have to comply first. "We can't enforce a law if we don't obey it." he said.
July 1 is the target date to begin enforcement of the tint law.
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