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Labeling the Police Department

Dear Source:

Have you ever negatively labeled someone; a group, maybe or even an organization without any real facts, evidence or reason? I would venture to guess that most of us have, whether we care to admit to it or not. Many of us often develop negative perceptions based on very limited information; which unfortunately, result in lasting and unchallenged negative labels. Sadly, even when more positive facts or evidence to the contrary arises, we are forever wedded to those negative perceptions, which had, in most cases, no true merit. Generally, we rarely express or send positive messages letting the individual, group, or organization know when our perceptions have changed, or even, was ever in error. I am perplexed in understanding why it is more difficult to praise than to condemn.
For that reason I would like to begin by offering our Police Department and its Commissioner my apology. For quite some time I have labeled the police department as not very good in being able to control crime in the territory. I am completely guilty of labeling the police department negatively because of the high crime, many unsolved cases, robberies, assaults, cold cases, and now prison escapes. While I could write about all of the problems we see and hear about the police department; this editorial is about the positive things occurring within the department. This time, I will focus on the positive. I personally would like to thank the police and other law enforcement agencies for their quick capture of the recently escaped serial rapist and killer. It is unimaginable what pain this individual could have inflicted on the public had he not be re-captured quickly. More than a capture, I see this as evidence that the police are becoming more effective due in part to their recent efforts to engage the public in providing information to help solve crime. This partnership with the public is showing that by providing this information to law enforcement, apprehensions, arrests, and convictions are accelerated; and as a result we are all much safer.
Additionally, we have seen that the partnership between the Police Department and the Daily News in which the names and photos of the VI's 10 most wanted are listed. Hopefully in the near future this list can be expanded to the top 20. The Police Department's new approach to aggressively engage the assistance of the public to gather needed information appears to be working and I personally feel if they continue in this direction our territory will be a much safer place to live, work, raise families, retire, and visit.
Thus, I believe the Police Department has two challenges before them; 1) to fight crime, and 2) to fight the perception of crime. So as the department moves forward in working with the public to reduce crime in the territory, they must also be equally aggressive in promoting the good they have done. The community needs to know how many guns, drugs, rapists, murderers, and other criminal elements have been removed from our streets and out of the territory. To fight years of negative perception, there should be a constant beating of the drum from the Police Chiefs, Commissioner, or public relations person that the streets of the territory are once again safe for the residents. Safer streets for the residents, in turn, translate to a safer street for the thousands of tourists we greet each day. In closing, I would like to state that I do not think I was alone in attaching a negative label to the effectiveness of our Police Department; therefore, I would like to encourage our Police Department to more openly share their successes; as it does appear that the tide in the effort to reduce crime is turning in a positive direction. It is my opinion that this openness would go a long way in helping to actually fight real crime; and more importantly, to fight the sometimes false and inaccurate perception of crime and the police's efforts to reduce crime here in the territory.

Lawrence Boschulte
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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