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Thursday, September 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesVIPD Urges Public's Help in Keeping J'ouvert Safe

VIPD Urges Public's Help in Keeping J'ouvert Safe

As revelers take to the streets of Charlotte Amalie for three solid days of Carnival parades, the V.I. Police Department says only violence or too much partying can spoil the fun.
Showing a strong presence at most events warming up to the always–raucous J’ouvert celebration Thursday, VIPD brass have said the community needs to be the eyes and ears of safety during Carnival.
“We simply can’t be everywhere,” said St. Thomas Chief Rodney Querrard.
Last year, several acts of violence forced police to shut down J’ouvert hours early and clear the streets for the day.
“Our major objective is not to stop any one event,” Querrard said at a gathering in Carnival Village earlier this week. “Our main objective is safety,” he said. “If you see something, bring it to our attention.”
Querrard and others said their main concern this year is drunk driving. He urged people to have fun, but designate a driver or use the free shuttles offered by Bellows International and Diageo USVI.
“Stay out as late as possible. Have as much fun as possible,” Querrard said, "but don’t drink and drive. The life you save might be your own, or someone you love.”
The J’ouvert shuttles provided by the V.I. Taxicab Commission and Taxis in Unity will be located at the end of the J’ouvert parade route between the Carnival Village and VIPD headquarters. The two shuttles will run from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday and will follow two bus routes: one through Tutu and Raphune Hill going east, and another heading east through Frenchman’s Bay.
The shuttles are free to adults over 18 who have a voucher obtained in advance at the Bellows International office in Sub Base, or during J’ouvert festivities at the Safe Rides Ambassadors or at the Diageo USVI and Bellows International Safe Ride tent located at the end of the J’ouvert route.
Deputy Chief Dwayne DeGraff said police would be out in force to make sure they are around when someone needs them, be it on foot, riding bicycles, scooters and ATVs.
“So far we’ve had the different functions… and they’ve been incident-free,” DeGraff said earlier this week. “I’d like to stress that again: incident-free. Also crime-free!”
His traffic commanders asked drivers to respect other people’s driveways and loading zones, and said that while the police would observe a bit of leniency in the Carnival spirit, people who park illegally in handicapped spots will be ticketed or towed.
Querrard said that since Carnival has often brought with it the blight of violent crime, his officers have intensified activities and presence at known crime “hot spots” on St. Thomas to keep the criminals and gangs off guard.
“If everyone just plays by the rules, everything will be good and we’ll have a great Carnival,” he said, lamenting that the VIPD had to shut down J’ouvert last year.
“If we had not stopped Carnival and the violence would have continued,” he said, “I just couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t live with that. Let’s not let that happen again,” he said. “Let’s have fun and let’s be safe.”

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