Feb. 2, 2006 – Police officers from the Bahamas, on St. Croix as part of a Caribbean Police Chief Association exchange program, are already praising V.I. law enforcement and looking forward to the learning officers from both regions can expect.
At a press conference at the Mars Hill Complex in Frederiksted, V.I. Police Commissioner Elton Lewis introduced Sgt. Mareno Hind, Cpl. Italilon Williams and Police Supt. Shannondoa Evans from the Royal Bahamian Police Force.
Evans, who leaves the Virgin Islands on Saturday, said that quickly after his arrival here he was "blown away" to see the V.I. Police Department's response to a breaking and entering call. He said, "I wonder if the residents of the Virgin Islands are aware of the good service they are getting."
Evans told reporters, "We have not come to teach anything. We are here to learn. In that process maybe we will be able to share our experience too."
Hinds, whose expertise is in criminal investigation, and Williams, whose expertise is in training, arrived Tuesday and will be in the Virgin Islands for 31 days. Their areas of expertise will be a determining factor in where they contribute the most during the time they are in the Virgin Islands, according to Lewis. After spending 10 days on St. Croix, the Bahamian officers will spend 10 days each on St. Thomas and St. John.
Lewis said the exchange program would give different Caribbean police departments an idea of how problems are handled on different islands. He added that the program would have a networking effect. He said, "We will put a face to a name. We will get on a first-name basis."
Lewis said one of the purposes of the exchange program was to show residents, "In some way, form or fashion all police departments in the Caribbean are facing the same challenges."
Hinds said, "This is history in the making. Our commissioners are forerunners in this vision."
Williams said, "As soon as I heard about the ACCP initiative, I knew it was a good thing,"
Lewis said that he learned the Bahamian police department had 900 volunteer auxiliary officers and added, "We are lucky to get 50."
And while the Bahamian officers are exchanging knowledge in the Virgin Islands, some of the V.I. Police Department's officers are in the Bahamas doing the same thing.
Territorial Police Chief Novelle Francis accompanied V.I. officers Walter Jack and Mary Looby to the Bahamas on Monday. Francis will return Saturday but Jack and Looby will be looking at how the Bahamian police department does its job for the next 30 days.
The Virgin Islands-Bahamas exchange is part of a pilot program by members of the Caribbean Chiefs of Police Association, and could lead to future exchanges of officers throughout the Caribbean.
Lewis said that the association of police chiefs would be meeting in Aruba in May and the value of the program would be analyzed.
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