July 7, 2005 – Eleven new police officers joined the V.I. Police Department on Thursday. The recent graduates of the 26-week police academy on St. Croix were sworn in by Judge Maria Cabret in ceremonies at Government House in Christiansted.
The guest speaker was U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins, but officers and about 100 of their family members and guests also heard from Elton Lewis, police commissioner; Novell Francis Jr., territorial chief of police; and Sen. Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion.
Francis said the graduates represented the "cream of the crop." When solicitations for the class were made, more than a hundred people applied. When the class began, there were 21 members. Graduating from the class, along with the 11 police officers, was one Superior Court Marshal Andrew Ayala.
Francis told the officers, "Treat with dignity everyone you come in contact with. You must treat people fairly and impartially."
Lewis followed up on this point. He said the biggest complaint the public had with the police department was that officers were not treating community members with respect.
However, that was not Lewis' first bit of advice for the graduating officers. The most important thing for officers was to "love God" and to love themselves, he said.
The next thing on his list was that officers maintain good relationships with their families. "You know who it really is that protects your back? It is your family," Lewis said.
Officers need to balance family life and work, he said. If an officer has problems in his family life, that often detracts from his ability to do his job well.
Many of the speakers mentioned that although policing is not a well-paid profession, it was one of the most important.
"Being a police officer is not one of the highest paying jobs, nor is it one of the most glamourous," Jenkins said. "But what higher calling is there than protect and serve?"
The police department likes to have two classes graduate each year, but budget constraints and the difficulty of getting enough candidates sometimes makes that impossible, said Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman. Another class is expected to start in October.
Hannah said that these graduates will assist the department, but they will not bring it up to the department's authorized level.
They start work on Sunday, Lewis said.
The officers sworn in were: Orlando Benitez Jr.; Augustin Encarnacion III; Samuel Gittens; Sharon Haywood; Alexander A. Moorhead IV; Orville Osborne; Vanessa Richardson; Nakia Samuel; Sean A. Santos; Paul Schuster; and Nadir Thompson.
Lt. William Harvey, the training director, was master of ceremonies.
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