July 12, 2001 — The International Union of Police Associations is not only concerned about the recent disappearance of a St. Croix police officer, but the overall condition of law enforcement in the territory.
The disappearance of Cpl. Wendell Williams, missing for more than three weeks, underscores the lack of government support for police officers, said Rich Roberts, IUPA spokesman. That is essentially the position held by the association’s local chapter, the St. Croix Police Benevolent Association.
"We have several concerns" about the Virgin Islands relayed by PBA members, Roberts said. Those include a lack of equipment and low pay.
But it is the case of the missing officer that has spurred the IUPA into action. Williams disappeared in mid-June after dropping a relative off at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. He hasn’t been seen since. What was initially a missing-person case was upgraded to a criminal investigation at the end of June with the discovery of Williams' burned vehicle.
"When something happens to an officer we all pay very close attention," Roberts said. "We have been getting reports from the Virgin Islands that concern us . . . We’re determined to find out more about that."
In so doing, the IUPA sent a letter to Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen on Tuesday asking her to request a congressional oversight hearing on "what is developing as a very grim picture of law enforcement in the U.S.V.I," according to a statement released by the organization on Thursday.
Although Christensen said she hasn’t received the letter, she was cool to the idea of requesting such hearings. She said she has been in contact with several federal law enforcement agencies on matters concerning the territory, such as drug trafficking.
"We’ll do whatever we can . . . and make contact with the IUPA because working together I think we can improve the situation for the police," Christensen said. "But I don’t think congressional oversight is the way we want to go."
Additionally, Roberts said the IUPA has contacted the Travel Industry Association of America to provide the union with information regarding tourism companies with a "vested interest" in the Virgin Islands. The union wants to solicit help in convincing the V.I. government to give more support to the V.I. Police Department.
"We understand how important tourism is" to the territory, Roberts said. "If tourists feel unsafe, we think that will have a negative impact on the economy."
Meanwhile, no new leads on the whereabouts of Williams have come in, according to police officials. The IUPA has added $1,000 to the $6,000 reward for information in the case.
Anyone with information as to Williams’ possible whereabouts is asked to call police at 778-4950, 778-2211 ext. 4530, or the emergency number 911.


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