Here it is, the middle of February 2023, and we already are at five homicides in our beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. The questions asked are usually: Why is this happening? Why is this continuing to happen? Why do so many cases go unsolved?
The only answer I have is, as long as we continue to be complacent and see (don’t see), and hear (don’t hear), it will continue.
These crimes, for the most part continue to happen due to retaliatory turf wars (some drug related), and knowing that there is a great possibility that even if someone witnesses a crime, that individual will NOT say anything.
The criminals in our community are outnumbered by good, law-abiding citizens, there is no doubt about it, but we must do our part to deter this continuing downward spiral.
The people committing these crimes are family, friends and associates of local residents — not strangers. More often than not, someone other than the perpetrators themselves, know that a crime will take place prior to its occurrence.
That’s because the perpetrators are not afraid to talk or even brag about their intentions in front of others. Again, knowing that more likely than not, nothing will be said. This is an excellent time to pass the information along, thus saving someone from being seriously injured, or worse, killed.
The majority of Virgin Islanders know someone in law enforcement. There are several departments with employees who have peace officer status, meaning they have law enforcement authority. Pass on what you know — even if it’s hearsay — to someone you are comfortable with. That might just be the piece of the puzzle the investigators need to further their case. There is also an anonymous tip line, Crime-Stoppers USVI, 1-800-222-TIPS or 8477. Calling this hotline is an “untraceable” way of passing on information before, during and after a crime is committed. It could assist law enforcement investigators in preventing or solving a case.
VIPD officers cannot be everywhere at once, and they are usually not present when most crimes are committed. That is why it’s important to get EVERYBODY’S buy-in. It takes all in a community — law enforcement and citizens — to address crime.
Many times after a crime is committed law enforcement may hear about potential perpetrators. Merely hearing about a possible suspect is NOT enough to make an arrest. An in-depth investigation must occur and probable cause must be established prior to moving forward with the case. Thus, doing our part by assisting with information can result in timely arrests.
By working together, citizens and law enforcement can and will make a difference. It’s all up to the person looking in the mirror every day.
Let’s play our part in making our beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands what it truly is, “America’s Paradise.”.
— Rodney F. Querrard, St. Thomas, is a former Police commissioner.