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HomeNewsLocal newsHomicides Trended Down in 2022, Martinez Says

Homicides Trended Down in 2022, Martinez Says

VIPD patrol car. (Linda Morland photo)
A strategic police presence and persistence investigations are credited by the V.I. Police Department for a lower murder rate in 2022. (Source file photo by Linda Morland)

Police in the U.S. Virgin Islands rang in the New Year with something to celebrate: the murder rate, territory-wide, declined in 2022. Police Commissioner Ray Martinez confirmed the numbers as he left second-day inaugural events on St. John Tuesday.

Police Commissioner Ray Martinez. (Source file photo)

Ten homicides were recorded for the St. Thomas-St. John district and 25 on St. Croix in 2022, for a total of 35.

That’s 10 fewer homicides than were recorded in 2021, when there were 29 on St. Croix, 14 on St. Thomas and two on St. John, according to the Source homicide list* for that year. In 2020, the territory saw 45 homicides, and the year before that, 40.

The commissioner credited detectives working with the VIPD Major Crimes Division and their ability to hand detailed investigations over to the Justice Department, resulting in arrest warrants. “Our team has done awesome work,” Martinez said.

Investigators worked their cases, piecing together facts and evidence that allowed prosecutors on St. Croix to obtain court-issued warrants for more than a dozen suspects on St. Croix, the commissioner said. Doing so is helpful, he added, because several homicides there were retaliatory.

If the number of tit-for-tat killings was subtracted from last year’s count on St. Croix, the murder rate would look more like the one on St. Thomas-St. John, Martinez said.

The department’s ability to deploy police patrols to homicide hot spots has also been effective, the commissioner said. The difference was noticeable, he said, as law enforcers had multiple sites where police presence was needed on the same day.

As patrol officers shifted from one location to another, reports of shots fired resumed in some locations, the commissioner said. He attributed the activity to bad actors, reluctant to abandon their violent ways.

*The Source Homicide List is a chronological log of the homicides recorded each year in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as reported by the VIPD. Cases are broken down by island. While this listing is based on VIPD reports, the Source does not include suicides or vehicular homicides in its listing that the police and some other media do. This can lead to a discrepancy in the number of incidents reported.

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