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Cpl. Sheila Middleton Remembered as Devoted Advocate for Children

June 13, 2006 — "She left humongous shoes to fill." Those were the words uttered by one resident upon hearing of V.I. Police Cpl. Sheila Christine Middleton's sudden and untimely death in the early morning hours of June 13. Middleton, who recently complained of health problems, suffered a heart attack and was taken to the Juan F. Louis Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She was 46.
As the supervisor of the St. Croix Crime Prevention Unit, Middleton was best known as a champion of community crime prevention efforts. She was the driving force behind the organization of many community watch groups. She continually urged communities to remain vigilant against the criminal element. She often went door to door cajoling residents to attend organizational meeting.
"I don't know who is going to fill her shoes," East End neighborhood watch organizer Judi Fricks said. "She went to neighborhoods that did not want neighborhood watch groups, but she had a mission. She knew what she wanted to do."
Fricks said Middleton's commitment to crime prevention even inspired her to get involved with mentoring children. "She never left a meeting without telling us 'We have to reach the kids; if we reach the kids we don't have to do this anymore,'" Fricks said. "So now I am working with some children at the schools."
As resolute as she was with forming neighborhood watch groups, Middleton's commitment to shaping good habits in young people was equally unwavering.
"Working with kids was her first love," VIPD Territorial Crime Prevention Director Kenneth Blake said. Blake said he appointed Middleton as crime prevention supervisor because of her leadership and "interest in crime prevention." Blake said Middleton would always fight for what she believed in. "She was very vocal in what she wanted for the young people," he said. "She was a plus in the department. She will be sorely missed."
As head of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, Middleton touched the lives of hundreds of school children. In May the DARE program graduated more than 700 students in a ceremony on St. Croix. Middleton taught the five-week DARE class teaching the children to say "No" to drugs and not to allow low self-esteem or peer pressure lead them to a life of drugs.
Born in New York City on Sept. 15, 1959, Middleton joined the VIPD on Jan. 2, 1981 and served her community as a patrol officer, communications officer and school security officer until she was assigned to Crime Prevention. She was promoted to the rank of corporal on April 29, 1996.
Condolences to Middleton's family and friends poured on from all over the territory.
Delegate Donna M. Christensen said Middleton "was a committed public servant who dedicated much of her work and volunteerism to our children."
Lt. Governor Vargrave Richards said Middleton's "tireless dedication to crime prevention, evidenced through her work with establishing the Neighborhood Crime Watch program and the DARE program, was second to none." Richards said, "She was a true soldier in the fight against crime in this territory."
In a press release Tuesday, speaking on behalf of the 26th Legislature about the passing of Middleton, Senate President Lorraine L. Berry declared the Virgin Islands has lost a truly dedicated law enforcement officer. "She worked around the clock to establish the Neighborhood Watch Program throughout St. Croix," Berry said, adding that Middleton raised the public's faith in the department's desire and efforts to curb crime.
Senate Vice President Ronald E. Russell said Middleton was a "concerned citizen who cared profoundly for children and her fellow man." Russell sent his "deepest condolences" to Middleton's friends and family saying: "As we mourn the passing of these two friends [Middleton and Lt. Gregory Bennerson], I ask that you recall the greatness of their contributions to the community and to their friends and families. May they both rest in eternal peace."
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