From the growing number of incidences of police misconduct, malfeasance and nonfeasance, the question is being asked: who is policing the police? In some departments in other jurisdictions, there is a unit that assists the department head in inspecting the personnel and practices to ensure they are in compliance with the rules and regulations of the department. This unit may have different names in different departments; many use the name of Inspection Unit, Inspector General. This unit is different than the Internal Affairs unit of the VIPD, which investigate complaints and is a reactionary unit. The inspector general or inspection unit is intended to be a proactive entity. The VIPD has such a unit but it was disbanded or discontinued by a certain commissioner of the VIPD a couple of years ago.
Presently, neither the VIPD nor any other peace officer units of the VI government have a proactive unit such as an inspector general or inspection unit that inspect police operations on a regular basis and submit reports to the police commissioner. The inspection unit reports directly to the office of the police commissioner. In other words, the inspector general would police the police to ensure the various police units are complying with the commissioner's orders, the police rules and regulations and the VI Code.
We believe it is time an inspector general unit be re-instituted in the VI Police Department to inspect the performance of all peace officers within the VI government, which will report to the recently created Civilian Review Board. It is up to the legislature to ensure that the executive branch complies with the laws they pass by carrying them to the third branch of government, the judiciary. If our representatives in the legislature are sincere in improving our government, they should exercise their oversight responsibilities over the other two branches of government.
One of the common flaws of many members of the Senate is that they pass laws with certain built-in defects, such as inadequate funding, if at all, or not stipulating a timetable for compliance with the laws. If the legislature were to be consistent in the practice of stipulating an effective date for the laws they pass, then the executive branch would be constrained to comply with the law, particularly if proper funding were identified and appropriated.
The legislature needs to stop the buck passing and assume the responsibility that is theirs: representing the best interest of the people of the U.S.V.I. Our police, our peace officers, need policing themselves to keep them on the straight and narrow road. Would our legislators assume the leadership and provide for the creation of a unit that would do just that? An inspection and control unit is needed to assist with both internal and external. Would our Senator step up to the plate and pass legislation that would create such a unit in government? I would be very sure they would want to also.
St. Thomas, VI
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.