March 4, 2006 – An agreement between the V.I. Police Department and the Bureau of Firearms, Tobacco and Alcohol that brought James McCall to the territory two years ago to serve as assistant commissioner of Police has been renewed for two years.
It didn't hurt that the Law Enforcement Supervisor's Union, unbeknown to McCall, actively advocated for his contract to be extended.
On Feb. 24, in a letter addressed to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Edmund I. Thompson, president of the LESU St. Thomas-St. John district, wrote, "In the district of St. Thomas/St. John Assistant Police Commissioner McCall has been very approachable, accessible and extremely professional while addressing issues relative to our concerns and accomplishments in our district."
The letter goes on: "His constant positive encouragement, demonstrated experience and intellectual law enforcement advice is an inspiration to our law enforcement officers."
McCall said Saturday that he had not been aware of the letter until someone gave him a copy this week.
McCall came to his current position in March 2004, but has a history with the Virgin Islands that dates back to the early 90s.
From November 1991 to August 1994, McCall was the ATF agent for the territory. During his tenure he was responsible for investigating any incidents involving firearms.
But even after he left McCall said he stayed in touch with the officers he had met and worked with. "I would try to help them get what they needed in terms of training if I knew we could get something accomplished," McCall said Saturday.
Between 1994 and 2004, McCall served as ombudsman for ATF for the entire country. As ombudsman he was charged with quietly mediating conflicts that arose in the agency.
"I was there to look after the employees," he said. "I would bring parties together in an informal setting to try to resolve their issues."
It would seem McCall has used that experience effectively in the Virgin Islands over the last few years.
"Assistant Commissioner McCall on a regular basis has communicated and interacted with police commanders, unit heads, supervisors and officers to ascertain our concerns, ideas and course of direction to make the U.S. Virgin Islands a safer place for all residents and visitors alike," Thompson wrote to the governor.
McCall recollected that it was Police Commissioner Elton Lewis, who he knew from his previous years in the territory, who planted the seed for his current position.
Lewis contacted him about coming to the territory to help establish a bomb squad.
McCall answered the call, thanks to the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, which allows personnel from one entity to work for another agency.
But the terms are limited. The VIPD-ATF agreement has been renewed for two years.
Four years is the maximum a person can serve another agency under the IPA agreement, McCall said, adding that the agreement can also be voided if either agency wants it to be.
"If ATF wanted me to come back, I'd have to go," he said. "Or if the governor didn't need me anymore, that would be fine too."
The agreement, he said, is nonbinding. It also costs the people of the territory nothing, which Thompson used as a selling point in his letter to Turnbull, pointing out that McCall's contract "is no added expense to the government's operating budget."
Regardless of the cost, the supervisors serving under McCall seem adamant that he stay, and he is happy with the arrangement as well.
"I was pleased to hear my contract was extended," he said. "It's been a pleasure to work with the officers and the community."
He said he especially wanted to thank the governor and the Police Department for their support.
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