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VIPD Going In To The Churches To Summon All Help Possible To Fight Violent Crime In USVI

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — As the new Commissioner nominee of Public Safety, Trevor Velinor was introduced to the community at a July 25 press conference at the Omar Brown Sr. Fire Station on St. Thomas.

The Virgin Islands Police Department is continuing the process of forming community partnerships and building trust as part of the department’s mission.

Celvin Walwyn, Deputy Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and David A. Cannonier, Deputy Chief of Police, fully decked in his VIPD uniform worshiped with the congregation at the Nisky Moravian Church on Sunday, July 28, 2019 at the 9 a.m. service.

The intent and importance of their presence was clearly defined. “The main factor of being here is to let the people of our community know that the police are still approachable,” Walwyn explained. “And if the top of the police department can meet with them then the bottom of the police department is also approachable.”

While the message was similar the worship service was more personal for Deputy Chief Cannonier.

“I think the community needs to know that the people who are in charge of their safety also have a personal side and a spiritual side,” Cannonier emphasized. “All these people that you see here today: I grew up in this church, I was confirmed in this church, so it is like being back home.” As he was accompanied by his mother throughout the service, Cannonier shared deeper reflections. “It is good to see that from a small boy to where I am at now these are all the people that had a part in my upbringing and part of my rearing. I think it is very significant that we come back and we show that the kids from the community can get to the highest levels of government or in leadership.”

Walwyn made it clear that today’s attendance was not the first of its kind and certainly won’t be the last. “What I have been doing as the head of the police department and with the help of the people who work with me is at least once every other Sunday on St. Croix we have been visiting a different church, we have been attending church events or community events,” Walwyn said. “Whether it is a church or not it is to let the people know that the police are here and we do care and we would like to regain the trust and confidence of the police and the police department and so we make ourselves accessible.”

As a result of this new community action plan VIPD has noticed some customs of the community. “One of the things that we have learned since we been here is most people don’t want to attend town hall meetings,” Walwyn observed. “Whether it is too late or whether it is too far they choose not to attend.”

As a first resort to fight crime by all means needed, the VIPD’s top brass felt that a “shift to the churches was necessary.”

“We are a very church going people as a culture and we go to church,” Walwyn declared. “So, it is an improvement to relationships with the community for the police department to come to the churches to meet the people, listen to their concerns and let them know that the police are here and approachable.” The Virgin Islands can find comfort in knowing that the VIPD is out there trying their best to keep this community safe for all. As both men shared their assurances of their effort.

Deputy Chief Cannonier shared these words. “As part of the new vision of the department, it is to let the community know who we are and to get out there and this is a start. We will be more visible as you can see that I am in uniform, Deputy Chief Cannonier said candidly. “They clearly know who I am and what I am representing and so I think this is something that Dr. Walwyn and I are going to continue to do. We want to bring the community on board as a partnership with us.”

Deputy Police Commissioner, Walwyn summed up Sunday’s worship attendance.

“So, it is getting out that the police are out here to meet our community, out here to support our community but we do need the support of the community to get the job done,” Walwyn pleaded. “The community can call if they have any concerns or to report anything.” Walwyn assured that, “we have a Crime Stoppers program where they don’t have to give their names.

They can just make the calls anonymously and even if people want to speak to any of us who are in the upper level of police management, they can get our phone numbers and call us off the record.”

Walwyn says he is an ordained minister in a Christian church with a doctorate degree.

Anyone having any information or concerns please contact the Virgin Islands Police Department at (340) 774-2211, Major Crime Unit at 340-714-9830 or the Criminal Investigation Bureau (340) 714-9807. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-(800) 222-8477 or 911.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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