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School Safety Patrol Sworn in to "Awesome Responsibility"

Nov. 18, 2006 — The halls of the Alexander Henderson School should be more orderly since 24 safety-patrol officers were sworn in Friday by Commissioner of Police Elton Lewis.
"You have an awesome responsibility," Lewis said, speaking directly to sixth-grader Estefani Del Rosario, selected as group commander. "You have to take the blame for whatever goes wrong." Remember your core values of respect and fairness, Lewis told the class: "Be strict but fair, have integrity and do the right thing."
When he was in elementary school he served as a school safety-patrol officer, Lewis said, and that planted the seed for his police career.
With their classmates and proud parents in attendance, the new inductees marched into the cafeteria and took their seats on the stage. Dressed in black slacks with the school safety patrols' distinctive lime green belts and shoulder straps over their white dress shirts, the students stared stoically ahead in military fashion during the ceremony.
Lt. Thomas Hannah, newly assigned as VIPD training commander, told the students he too had been a school patrol officer. "Be respectful and you will earn respect," he said.
Territorial Chief of Police Novelle Francis also took time to talk to the new patrol officers. "This takes me back," she said. "I was a school patrol officer in the fourth grade."
Several students received the ranks of captain, lieutenant and sergeant. Four students got the Award of Merit, the highest award a student-patrol member can receive: Del Rosario, Ajani Dowdy, Milagros Figueroa and Shavinma Bryan.
This was the third patrol class the sworn in at the school, according to guidance counselor Ilma Rodgers-Francis, who was instrumental in forming the patrols. The first class graduated eight students and the second had 16, she said. "We are growing."
The director of the school safety-patrol program, Henry James, has established patrols in seven schools. The local programs are associated with the national AAA School Safety Patrol. James sent a plea to the community for assistance in obtaining a vehicle to transport the students and to purchase two-way radios and a laptop computer.
Other speakers encouraging the students to do the right thing were Deputy Superintendent of Schools Jewel Ross-Brathwaite; Sen.-Elect James Weber; Sen. Terrence Nelson; gubernatorial candidate John de Jongh and Police Athletic League Director Renholdt "Rookie" Jackson.
"These children are a refreshing alternative to the grim news that is reported daily," said Alexander Henderson Principal Sofronio Navarrete. "They are a hopeful alternative."
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