It’s easy to complain about trucks speeding down the road or lengthy police response times, but now a group of St. John residents is doing more than squawking.
Governor John deJongh recently tapped Helen Simon to head up a revived nine-member St. John Citizens’ Integration Team.
A partnership between V.I. Police Department officials and a group of Love City residents including business owners, teachers and retired public officials, an island CIT is not a new idea.
Members of this CIT group, however, are determined to see this latest reincarnation make a difference.
“This is a direct relationship between the police and the public,” said Simon, chairperson of the St. John CIT. “Our mission is to enhance the quality of life and safety on St. John.”
Goals Set By Community
“Our responsibility is to work with the police department to accomplish whatever goals the CIT and community determines are the needs of St. John,” Simon continued. “Over time and as our goals are met, those needs will change.”
First on the group’s agenda is tackling the alarming crime wave sweeping across the island by empowering individual neighborhoods, Simon explained.
“We will educate the community on neighborhood crime watches,” said Simon. “We’ll set up training sessions in different areas and have the community participate with the police to learn how to take care of their own neighborhoods.”
Not only will police help inform citizens, but VIPD officers will be getting a helping hand from Love City residents soon as well, Simon added.
Reenforcements for Police Force
“We’re setting up a training program on St. John to bring on our own auxiliary police officers,” she said. “There will be a 19-week training program, which will be offered here on St. John at night. The program will first of all enhance the size of our police force which is quite small.”
Auxiliary officers are paid for their work and this is the perfect time to offer additional employment opportunities, Simon explained.
“Secondly, the auxiliary police are paid two-thirds of a police officer’s salary so it is a way for people to get some additional revenue,” said Simon. “It’s perfect timing with the economy slowing down and people in need of other types of work. This is perfect for someone who wants to do something additional and get paid and help the community.”
The CIT group is set to do something about speeding trucks, Simon added.
Stop the Speeding and Spilling
“We’re setting up a phone number people can call to try to stop the problem we’re having with trucks and large vehicles speeding on the roads,” said the CIT chairperson. “The number will be called by the citizen, who can hopefully identify the vehicle, and there will be someone assigned specifically for the line. There will be warnings followed by ticketing and fines.”
“We will do something about the speeding and spilling concrete — the things we all complain about but because police manpower is so small it’s hard to get results,” Simon continued.
Chance To Make A Difference
Being actively involved is the only way to combat crime and other dangers, according to Simon, who hoped more citizens jump on board to make the island’s CIT group a success.
“As we move forward as a group and a community, people will realize the only way to keep our island safe is for all of us to be proactive,” she said.
Simon, who has been long active in education and the arts, is confident the effects of the new CIT group’s efforts will soon be obvious.
“I got involved because I saw a real possibility that we could make a difference,” said Simon. “Government officials are very focused on making the changes necessary to make our communities safe. Honestly, in two sessions I’ve seen a difference.”
Similar CIT groups are being formed throughout the territory. For more information about the CIT group or auxiliary police program call Simon at 693-8834.