I read with horror the letter from Mr. Stone that he was ticketed for unloading his injured wife and their luggage at the ferry dock just because they pulled into the handicapped space in order to not block traffic. Under the circumstances with his wife recovering from a sprained ankle and not wanting to create any additional traffic congestion, I find it unconscionable that the officer acted in such a callous and insensitive manner. She should truly be as ashamed of herself, as I am of her, for her insensitive actions.
Perhaps it would have been better for this elderly couple to completely block traffic causing even more congestion. The worst part is that this officer knew that these people would have no possible way to defend themselves without traveling all the way back down to the Virgin Islands to appear in court.
What I find most interesting is that this couple was only able to pull into the handicap parking space at the ferry dock, next to the cannon, because another vehicle was just pulling out. Why wasn’t that vehicle ticketed?
And speaking of enforcing the laws, there are two very important aspects to every law. One is the letter of the law, as it reads in print, and the other, and much more important aspect of any law, is the spirit of that law. In this case, the letter of the law was strictly, arbitrarily and unfairly enforced, with absolutely no regard for the spirit of the law. Any officer that cannot discern the difference between the letter and spirit of the law should never be allowed to wear a uniform or carry a gun.
What this officer did to set back tourism on St. John is immeasurable and beyond comprehension. Does she have any idea how many people have already heard about this incident and how many thousands more will hear about it thanks to the Internet and all the feed back Web sites about the Virgin Islands that are available?
Our Virgin Island government, using our hard earned tax dollars, spends hundreds of thousands of those dollars every year to promote the Virgin Islands tourism industry and attract tourists here for the benefit of all who live here. To have one angry, power hungry police officer destroy the vacation experience of an elderly, disabled couple may cost this island 1,000 times as much as was collected from that one ticket in lost tourist visits and revenue.
Also, the idea put forth by Mr. Matthew of Hospitality Car Rental that Mr. Stone was asked to move his car by the police officer and refused is absolutely absurd. Mr. Stone never had a chance to move because the officer pulled in behind his car and blocked him in the moment he pulled into the parking space. Not only did the officer not ask Mr. Stone to move, the officer actually refused to let Mr. Stone move even after he offered. This is simply the officer’s way of back peddling to make it seem that her actions were somehow justified.
I hope the officer can sleep at night with what she’s done to this island because most of those that I’ve spoken to that live here on St. John cannot.
I had occasion to pass by the ferry dock last Thursday afternoon and found the pictured rental jeep, driven by a local businessman, parked and left in the same handicapped space that the couple was cited for and, even with the police present, of course, no citation was issued!
I’ve also noticed that on most days, the employees of WAPA are parked in the handicapped space in front of their office, knowing that they will never get a ticket as shown in the accompanying photo.
Another favorite of mine is that, not only the local taxi drivers, but the police themselves routinely block the entrance to this very handicapped parking space, not allowing anyone to access it, but that seems to be perfectly OK with the police. My point in writing this letter is to say to the V.I. Police Department that if you’re going to enforce the law then enforce the law the same to everyone.
I urge our new Commissioner of Police, Mr. James McCall, to investigate this police officer, and especially this matter, and, in the spirit of the law, in the interest of justice and to restore the faith of the tourism industry and the island population in the police department, to rescind this totally inappropriate citation and refund this couple the $1,000 that was extorted from them under threat of arrest and imprisonment upon their departure.
Commissioner McCall, if you truly want to fight crime, start with this police officer and remand her to a desk or a crossing guard position where her talents will be more appropriate to the job. It’s a shame that with all the great officers that make up the police force that it only takes a very few to tarnish the entire organization and loose the respect of the public.
A copy of this letter and the original article describing the incident, as it appeared in the Tradewinds on March 5, has been mailed to Commissioner James McCall for review and investigation. I urge Commis-sioner McCall to not stay silent on this matter and to start taking steps to restore the public’s respect for the police department by publicly addressing this matter and its outcome to the people of St. John in a timely manner through an open letter to the editor of the Tradewinds to be published in a future edition.
Cruz Bay, St. John