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Police Confiscating Weapons, Cracking Down on Noise

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Feb. 27, 2008 — Police Commissioner James McCall and his chiefs Wednesday gave updates on arrests, citations, weapons confiscated, most-wanted lists and enforcement of noise-pollution laws territory-wide at the first in a series of scheduled news conferences.
"We are taking a step up on the enforcement of the noise-pollution act so people can have peace and quiet," said Thomas Hannah, St. Croix district police chief. "Noise is plaguing the community."
Noise pollution is any sound harmful or injurious to the safety of individuals, McCall said. He outlined the specifics of the law, saying it covered noise disturbances between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. within a residential zone, or 500 feet around a residential area. The noise may be from bars, loud music in cars, loud vehicles or machines such as power tools.
"At bars we will get them to start shutting down at 2 a.m., not 4 a.m.," said Rodney Querrard, police chief for the St. Thomas/St. John/Water Island district. "Most crimes happen in those couple of hours before they are actually closed."
The conference was held Wednesday at the police headquarters in Mars Hill, Frederiksted. Also in attendance were Assistant Commissioner Novelle Francis, Director of Training Doug Jones and Melody Rames, public information director.
McCall also gave a description of the new Police Cadet Program that the department is "rolling out now."
"This program is to encourage the best and the brightest to stay in the territory," he said.
The program is for public- and private-school students ages 16 to 18 with a 2.5 or better grade point average. The students must have a favorable recommendation from the principal and a clean background.
The students should have a desire to pursue a law-enforcement career, according to a news release. While in the program the students will study and train with police department personnel three days a week after school and on Saturdays. They will receive a compensation of $100 each week.
After graduation, the program will continue through an agreement with the Department of Personnel and the University of the Virgin Islands. The student can opt to continue his or her education full time and receive grant and scholarship assistance through the V.I. Government, or choose to take work with the VIPD immediately and continue education and training part-time.
Another initiative involves road safety. In Operation Check Point, a highly visible trafffic initiative, officers stop cars randomly.
"These traffic stops are to ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers," Hannah said. "In a recent 10-day period, we issued 268 citations and made four arrests."
One arrest was for possession of marijuana and the other netted an illegal firearm.
Since January police have confiscated 21 firearms and made 101 arrests for various crimes, Hannah said.
"The majority of the problems are domestic violence," Hannah said. "Domestic violence is a major crime — and we have zero tolerance for it."
In his district, Querrard said, police have made 95 arrests and confiscated 20 firearms since the beginning of the year.
"Every weapon taken off the street is one less gun people could face on a daily basis," Querrard said.
In another road-safety effort, officers will enforce the law in the use of seats and restraints of passengers in the beds of pickup trucks.
"There aren't any seats or safety belts for the beds of pickup trucks that I know of," Querrard said. "The practice of putting kids in the back of a truck is very unsafe, and safety is the bottom line."
The most-wanted lists broadcast to the public through the media have worked, Querrard said.
"People need to continue to call in information to help us," he said. "We will continue to update the lists."
Hannah brought up citizens' concerns about not getting an answer when they call 911. If there isn't an answer within five rings, people should hang up and call right back, he said.
The officials all expressed appreciation to the public for cooperation in catching criminals and helping police solve crimes.
"There is nothing we can do in law enforcement without the input and cooperation of the community," McCall said.
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