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VIPD Swears In Top Brass for Three Islands

St. Thomas/St. John Police Chief Darren Foy, right, and St. John Deputy Police Chief Maria Colon-Jones congratulate one another on their new commands (Photo by Bill Kossler).The V.I. Police Department swore in new top brass for St. Thomas and St. John on Monday and a new St. Croix deputy police chief Tuesday, marking changes in management that put Police Commissioner Henry White’s stamp on the department since taking office late last year.

St. Thomas/St. John Police Chief Darren Foy and St. John Deputy Police Chief Maria Colon-Jones received the oath of office from V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar on St. Thomas Monday.

Adding to the significance of the day for both of these career police professionals, Foy was one week shy of celebrating his 20th anniversary with the department, and Jones makes VIPD history as its second female deputy chief. Sylvia Thomas was the first to hold that post, Jones said after the ceremony.

St. Croix Deputy Chief James Parris took the oath Tuesday on St. Croix, with Judge Julio Brady officiating.

Commissioner White said at the ceremony that the new chief and deputy chiefs were handpicked. “This is the face of new leadership in the VIPD," he said, noting that merit was the guiding rule and that he looked forward to their leadership for many years.

Police Chief Darren Foy

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1969, Foy was raised on St. Thomas. He got his bachelor’s in Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Conn., in 1991, then returned to St. Thomas and became a V.I. Police officer in 1992.

During his career Foy focused on continuing and broadening his training, receiving specialized training from the Federal Bureau of Investigation U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Army Military Police School, the National Law Enforcement Training Center, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation and several other schools and agencies.

As a VIPD officer, Foy has been Special Federal Officer with the Safe Streets Task Force, during which he held a special deputation from the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service and obtained a national security clearance. In 1999, he graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy program in Quantico, Va., a program for high-ranking state, local and county law enforcement officers. He was also a forensic detective and training instructor for the department.

When studying at the FBI academy, Foy was a detective with seven years experience, but according to the Police Department, he demonstrated exceptional investigative skills while assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.

In 2007, Foy was promoted to sergeant and made supervisor of the Safe Streets Task Force. Later that year, he was appointed deputy police chief for St. John.

In March, Foy was tapped to be chief of police for the St. Thomas/St. John District and, with Monday’s ceremony, took up those reins in a more official and permanent capacity.

A family man with three sons, he helps the managers of his youngest son’s peewee baseball team whenever he can and is an avid softball player who competes in several local leagues.

Deputy Police Chief Maria Colon-Jones

Colon-Jones is a 17-year police veteran. Joining the department in 1996, she worked up through the ranks and got experience in patrol, followed by several years in criminal investigations, then six years in the Juvenile Investigation Bureau. She received her bachelor’s in criminal justice from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2000. Colon-Jones was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and put in charge of the day-to-day operation of the 911 System in the St. Thomas/ St. John District.

In 2010, she was promoted to lieutenant and made a zone commander.

Along with formal training in a wide array of police activities, Colon-Jones has been working toward completion of a master’s in criminal justice.

Asked why she entered police work, Colon-Jones said she was interested in the field since early in high school, and began developing the skills and exploring the field of law enforcement while serving in the National Guard for 10 years.

"It’s been more than 20 years since a female has been appointed deputy chief, so I have to do a really good job. Hopefully this will be a pathway for other female police to follow,” she said.

Deputy Police Chief James Parris

Born and raised in Frederiksted, Parris attended local public schools, graduating in 1964 at the age of 17, and volunteering for a two-year tour of duty in 1965. He returned to join the ranks of the V.I. Police Department in 1967. Parris was promoted to the rank of police sergeant in 1978, and was assigned the post of traffic commander.

In 1980 Parris graduated from FBI academy training and, in 1982, he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Ancilmo Marshall Command as a shift lieutenant and Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) commander.

He was ultimately responsible for all specialized training for the unit but opted to have them attend the U.S. Marshalls Special Operation Group Training in Fort Polk, La., in 1985. That same year, Parris was promoted to captain and made commander of the Wilbur Francis Command. Shortly thereafter, he was made director of the Crime Prevention Bureau.

In 1990 Parris became St. Croix district commander, retiring in 1994. Since then, he has headed up a private security company, overseen operations at one of the venues of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and headed up the St. Croix Division of the V.I. Housing Authority Police.

He returned to the Police Department in 2009 as a cold case agent, working to help close selected older cases that have new evidence or tentative leads making them potentially solvable. He was tapped to be St. Croix deputy police chief in June.

Parris was also part of the team that made the arrests in the case of the missing Police Corporal, Wendell Williams.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, St. Croix Police Chief Chris Howell said, “It’s a relief to have a person of the caliber of Capt. Parris as the deputy chief for St. Croix. He brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and history of the department with him."

Parris declined to serve as deputy chief several times, White said at Tuesday’s ceremony, according to a statement from the VIPD, adding that after the recent wounding of two officers on St. Thomas, Parris finally accepted the position.

“Timing is everything,” White said, “and there is not a more important time than now. It takes a good team to tackle the issues of this community, and now we have a good balance on both the St. Thomas /St. John side and the St. Croix side.”

White took the opportunity to ask the community to give police as much support as possible.

"When you get to the point where the criminal element thinks they can assault my officers, you know we have a problem,” White said, referring to two officers who came under fire in Estate Contant in May.

White said the names of those officers have not been released, adding that one officer is still in the hospital and "needs our prayers." The other wounded officer was released and "he hobbled into the department" to talk, but was still recovering, White said.

White said Monday on St. Thomas, "We can’t do it alone. We need your support."

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