Home Commentary Op-ed Federal Law Enforcement Personnel Need Peace Officer Status

Federal Law Enforcement Personnel Need Peace Officer Status

Federal Law Enforcement Personnel Need Peace Officer Status

I know that I am not the only Virgin Islander who is outraged by the level of violent crime in our islands and who is distressed by the commiserating with friends, families and co-workers as we continue to bury our young men and women too often and too soon.

I also know that all of us want the police and our elected officials to do something to reduce the risks that all of us face, especially our children, when what should be a minor disagreement turns into a violent encounter or they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I also hope that there are many of us who are willing to ask for help from any agency which has the capacity to provide it.

All of the foregoing is prelude to my saying that I fully support the effort represented by the bill recently tabled in the 29th Legislature, Bill # 29-0078, to grant the same peace officer status given to employees of the V.I. Departments of Health and Justice to federal law enforcement personnel.

This obviously should not be the only effort. As a person who has long advocated that preventive efforts take priority, I still strongly maintain that position and have communicated that to Sen. Sammuel Sanes, who chairs the Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice.

I continue to work with like-minded colleagues in Congress to provide federal support for programs that save and redirect our children rather than lock them up and throw away the key.

Further, I am working with others in the Virgin Islands and on the U.S. mainland on other methodologies that would help to limit the entry of guns, drugs and other contraband into the territory. In that regard, I have requested that the U.S. Postal Service keep a postal inspector in the territory, a position which is considered invaluable to both local and federal law enforcement.

I will also continue to do everything in my power to prevent the defunding of the territory’s National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) system, a vital Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms program which gives participating local law enforcement agencies the ability to link gun crimes by comparing markings on bullet casings collected from crimes scenes with other images stored in a nationwide database.

It is important to note that nothing in the bill allows the relevant federal law enforcement officers to use excessive force or to use their status in any illegal or inappropriate way.

Further, they are to operate under the Commissioner of Police or the Attorney General as described in the bill. This is in keeping with what many states have in place, and in my mind, is somewhat short of applying the Supremacy clause, the constitutional principle which says that federal law is superior to state or territorial law.

I know that this is not popular in some circles, but I was not elected to only do or support positions that are “popular,” but to do and support what is in the best interests of my constituents.

While it may still be subject to some minor amendments, we need all the help we can get and I feel that this measure is in all of our best interests.

The sooner bill # 29-0078 is passed the better.

Donna M. Christensen
V.I. Delegate to Congress


  1. Good afternoon Delegate Donna M. Christensen,
    Thank you for comments concerning the need for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel Peace Officer Status. With this status granted, I hope that we can reap the benefits of this partnership and resources of federal officers. However our lawmakers need to return to the bill and act on it. I understand that the sponsor of the bill has been working on it for many years now, if it needs refining then I hope his colleges can see the wisdom and need for this legislation and move forward on it. Many states that have it on their books, so why don’t we?
    I would ask the members of the public to contact the members of the Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice and ask for bill # 29-0078 to be brought forward again, amended and passed.
    The members on the committee are:
    Senator Sammuel Sanes, Chair;
    Senator Alvin L. Williams, Jr. ,Vice Chair;
    Senator Carlton “Ital” Dowe;
    Senator Usie R. Richards;
    Senator Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly;
    Senator Ronald E. Russell; and
    Senator Celestino A. White, Sr.

    Thank you,

    Jason Budsan

  2. Delegate Christensen,
    In reply to the first two posts, a Federal takeover of the Territory may be the last resort, I’d hate to see that happen. Martial Law and door to door searches of all the homes of law abiding citizens in the Territory, looking for illegal firearms isn’t the answer to all the crime and killing either.

    Illegal drugs are the problem… easy money from selling the illegal drugs, robbery to get the easy money for the illegal drugs… illegal guns to commit the robbery to buy the drugs… That’s the problem.

    Reading about this weekend’s co-operative effort to capture seven people, at least four from St. John, were arrested arrested Friday in connection with narcotics trafficking, according to a statement from the FBI Saturday.

    With all the Federal agencies that are available to take care of this problem, lets prosecute these crimes in Federal court. Not Territory court where the convicted criminals spend a few nights in a local jail, then they are released in the custody of their grandmother with an ankle bracelet pending appeal…. They slip out of the ankle bracelet, take a ferry to another Island, and buy another illegal gun, and are back in business again. Maybe they even kill someone that testified against them at their trial.

    If a crime involving weapons, and drugs, the criminal goes directly to Federal Prison back in the States. Lets all ask for bill # 29-0078 to be brought forward again, amended and passed.

    Happy Mothers Day to all…

  3. With all due respect Congresswoman Christensen, what is needed in the VI is an immediate lock down and declaration of Marshall Law. Guard units from off island should come in and inspect every home for guns and criminals and all offenders should be dealt with accordingly. The time for jibber jabbering has long past this paradise. Murders and robberies are completely out of control. Look at Haiti and you see the future of our paradise. The police CANNOT do the job here! True. Too many murders and too many robberies. Marshall Law – clean house now.

  4. I agree that Marshall Law is a last resort but I feel that given the level of Murders and Robberies in the territory that we are at that last resort. It is not safe for ANYONE to go to a bar or a restaurant or walk the streets anymore – period. Find the drugs. Find the guns. Find the CRIMINALS and deal with it all swiftly and completely once and for all – wisk this human garbage off island where friends and family cannot get in the way of taking these low life thugs to the garbage can where they deserve to be discarded.


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