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Cops Crack Down to Ensure Festival Safety

Jan. 1, 2008 — St. Croix Police Chief Thomas Hannah laid down the law Monday, letting the public know police are out in force and taking serious measures to ensure a safe Christmas Festival on St. Croix.
Hannah spoke via teleconference to media representatives on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The Source spoke with him again Monday afternoon about some of the police activities surrounding the Christmas Festival and parades.
"We will be on the streets making sure J'Ouvert and the other parades are safe," he said. "We are telling you now, no person will be allowed at the parade with long overcoats, overly large jackets, canes, sticks, glass bottles, whether beer or liquor. If you do, we will take you out."
The point, he said, is not to harass, but to enforce the law and ensure public safety. "Obey the rules and everyone will have a good time."
He expects J'Ouvert to start on time too. "If you can't make it in time, too bad. You can go earlier to next year's J'Ouvert. And there will be no masks or shirts covering faces unless you're part of an authorized, legitimate mocko jumbie or masquerading group."
In the past, long delays before the parade appeared to contribute to a level of chaos leading to unfortunate incidents, he said.
"We are all working together to make festival safe and fun for the family," he said. "I want to thank the bands for working with us, and talking to their fans about stopping the violence.
Curfew is and will continue to be strictly enforced.
"I want to tell parents; keep an eye on your kids," he said. "We have picked up 13 individuals so far for curfew violations. After 10 p.m. kids 17 and under must be escorted by a responsible adult, meaning their legal guardian. Should parents fail to do what they are supposed to do we will seek charges on parental neglect. Your 12-year-old does not need to be out at midnight, or after curfew. They can be getting ready for school next week."
Meanwhile, Hannah said the police have been very active and, with a lot of community support, have made a number of rapid arrests on St. Croix.
"So far in December the police have made around 22 arrests, many for violent crimes, on St. Croix alone," he said. "Many were as a result of information from the community, which has been very helpful."
Ongoing sting operations are netting arrests as well, he said.
At 5 a.m. Monday, he said, a raid dubbed Operation Fireworks took place in Estate Diamond, with warrants for various gun, drug and assault charges.
"While executing the warrant we also found weapons, ammunition, a shotgun, rocks of crack cocaine and marijuana plants," he said. Edward Nelson of Estate Diamond was arrested.
Regarding the recent arrest of police officer Jeffrey Browne on charges of first degree murder, Hannah said anyone with credible evidence of a crime will be charged, no matter who they are. (See " Police Officer Charged in Christmas Shooting Spree.")
"As far as I am concerned no police officer should be upset about the recent arrest of a fellow officer," he said. "If anything, they should be angry, because they and the community placed their trust in a fellow officer and he is allegedly involved in a criminal incident. He is innocent until proven guilty, though, and the charges remain allegations until resolved in court."

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