This letter is in response to that of Mr. Dirk Raymond in which he inquired when the new police officers will be brought on board. As the newly-hired recruiter, I thought some of his questions extremely appropriate and timely. However, my response will also correct some of the commonly-held misconceptions regarding police recruitment which were set forth by Mr. Raymond.
In essence, Mr. Raymond stated the Virgin Islands Police Department hasnt addressed the shortage of officers throughout the Virgin Islands. That is simply not true.
Mr. Raymond correctly stated that the St. Croix police recruit class is underway. Indeed it is! Mr. C. Douglas Jones, our current director of training and retired Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent, and his training cadre are currently training a fit and energetic group of cadets who will join the ranks of our police force shortly.
The St. Thomas/St. John District class will be beginning next month in September. The potential recruits are currently undergoing background checks to ensure that we have the best police recruits in our classes. Once those potential recruits have cleared the background checks and other processes, they will be notified as to where and when to report in order to become a cadet and begin the process of becoming a Virgin Islands Police Officer.
This information is not new, however. A mere three weeks ago, Commissioner James McCall and I appeared on Talk2 with Amos Carty for an hour and discussed police recruitment and other police issues. News2 on TV2 also ran an excellent new story on the new police class, the upcoming September St. Thomas/St. John police cadet class and the difficulties involved with recruiting police officers. Finally, Daily News reporter Joseph Tsidulko wrote an extremely detailed and accurate article which explained the causes of the shortfall in the police ranks, as well as the efforts to bring the force up to full-strength.
The truth, as they used to say in a popular television show, is out there.
Some of the efforts which have gone into the recruiting process have not been as public, but have had far-reaching and positive implications for bringing the police force up to full strength.
Commissioner McCall, Mr. Jones and I have met with the Director of Personnel Kenneth Herman and his staff to discuss our concerns regarding the initial exam for recruits. Research has been done which revealed that all other police departments are experiencing the same issues with entrance exams, potential recruits passing background investigations and the loss of experienced officers to retirement or more lucrative offers.
To illustrate this point, recently the Atlanta Police Department tested 3,000 applicants. They ended up with 204 potential recruits — .068 percent. The Virgin Islands Police Department, through the Office of Personnel, tested 280 applicants. They ended up with 14 potential recruits — .05 percent. As anyone can see, the .018 difference is negligible in the testing results between Atlanta (and their surrounding counties) and the Virgin Islands .
We are currently, along with the Department of Personnel, in the process of further evaluating the testing instrument results to ensure that we are not using a flawed test. Also, Personnel Director Herman has proactively contacted UVI CELL to see if they can assist in providing instruction in test taking to those persons taking the basic entrance exams. In addition, the Division of Personnel will be offering the entrance examinations on a more frequent schedule. We are also trying to revitalize a proposed program with the University of the Virgin Islands to provide a manageable, yet accelerated Police Science Associate degree program.
Along with those efforts, a complete marketing campaign is being created to raise the local awareness of the need for police officers and to attempt to foster the desire for our people to become police officers.
Now, where the new officers will be stationed once they have completed their training will be a command decision and is not a purview of the recruiting office. Do please bear in mind, however, that St. Thomas and St. John comprise one district and the officers that will be trained in that district next month. That may have the effect of bolstering police presence on St. John .
Sen. Carlton Ital Dowe led a majority of senators of the 27th Legislature in supporting the communitys need for safety by providing the funding for recruiting, equipment and officers salaries.
The Honorable John P. deJongh Jr. made good on his campaign promise to support law enforcement by signing the legislation immediately upon its arrival on his desk and hiring a director of training and a recruiter.
Commissioner McCall has done a yeomans job of providing resources, support and encouragement to those of us charged with the recruitment, training and retention of police officers.
I believe that we have made significant progress in setting the stage toward a permanent bolstering the ranks of the Virgin Islands Police Department in the seven weeks since the Honorable John P. deJongh Jr. appointed me to as the VIPD Recruiter. Better days are indeed ahead for the Virgin Islands Police Department, but our community must realize that there are no quick fixes to any of our problems. Instead, our problems require true solutions that can only come from the in-depth planning and cooperative gathering and application of resources such as has been detailed in this letter.
Emmett Hansen II
VIPD Police Recruiter
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