I am a long-time resident of St. John.
I have been involved in the VIPD CIT group (Citizens Integration Team) and am police liaison for the Coral Bay Substation.
I attended Commissioner Lewis' workshop for police officers and citizens so that I could understand what and how community policing could affect the service of our VIPD.
I am impressed and excited that FINALLY our VIPD would get training in working WITH the community in a partnership against crime. It is a logical role and concept that has never been understood by most of our VIPD Management!
The main reason that so many crimes are not being solved is because too many police officers do not understand the "partnership" concept; neither are they encouraged to participate in such.
Many of our officers, esp. the individuals who have been in authority for so long, are not interested in "working with the community".
It appears that they have more of their individual needs of power and control met in keeping things "the same".
"The same " is a mess. I wonder how bad things have to get before there is some kind of a "shake down" in how operations are run?
Police morale is low; crime is high; the public's faith minimal. It appears that officers are sitting back–waiting for some clear direction and support in their work!
There are some great officers! I have had the pleasure of working with 2 officers regularly assigned to Coral Bay–Officers Fleming and Huggins. Their positive interactions and respect WITH community members have restored much faith in Coral Bay about what could be done within our VIPD!
My guess is that there is much division within the VIPD about this approach!
From my limited role and involvement as a citizen-I can clearly see that the "old ways of policing"–The Authoritarian Model (that no longer work!) and the new ways of "Community Policing" — The Team Approach (everyone focusing on the goals of safety and partnership built on mutual respect; communication and citizen involvement) is the only way to get this Police Dept. out of the mess it is in.
It seems to me that Commissioner Lewis has been attempting to lead our VIPD in this direction-NOT an easy task!
For him to do this successfully-he must have management "aboard". If the "captain" of the ship has people on the boat not following his directives to safely land that ship-it will never reach it's destination.
Perhaps what is happening is "part of the process" of change.
From where I stand, unless changes are made-towards "Community Policing" every one of us in this community has much to lose.
Times are too critical to allow individuals to continue with the "old way of policing" in the VI's.
Abrupt interactions with the community that the police serves; improper or lack of police reporting and loggings; "doing as little as possible " to put in one's time-as opposed to being out in the community and interacting with the people the VIPD serves; the list goes on…
I hope that the issue of "Community Policing" In Management is at the top of the list for voters this year!
And Thank You Commissioner Lewis for your continual leadership and tenacity.
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