With 5 Percent Arrest Rate, VIPD Cites Decrease in Crime, Increase in Arrests

Crime on St. John has decreased in the last year, while the number of arrests have increased, according to statistics provided by the V.I. Police Department. Despite the decrease in crime and increase in arrests cited by authorities, the actual number of arrests for crimes reported is alarmingly low.

VIPD Statistics
Based on the VIPD statistics, only 4.7 percent of reported crimes ended in arrest in 2005; however, this grim statistic is an improvement upon the three percent of arrests for crimes reported during 2004.

Of the 320 total reported crimes on St. John during fiscal year 2005, only 15 arrests have been made, and only 10 arrests were made during fiscal year 2004, when 338 crimes were reported.

Fiscal year 2005 began on October 1, 2004, and ended on September 30, 2005. Fiscal year 2004 began on October 1, 2003, and ended September 30, 2004.

The statistics provided by the VIPD broke the crimes down into eight categories: homicide, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, vehicle theft and arson.

The VIPD also provided information on how many arrests occurred in each category. There was no information provided on the outcome of the prosecution of those cases.

According to VIPD statistics, no homicides occurred in fiscal year 2005; there were three rapes and no arrests; eight robberies and no arrests; 44 felony assaults and nine arrests; 123 burglaries and two arrests; 92 incidents of grand larceny and one arrest; 44 vehicle thefts and three arrests; and six arsons and no arrests.

There were no homicides in fiscal year 2004 according to VIPD statistics; three rapes and no arrests; 14 robberies and one arrest; 51 felony assaults and four arrests; 126 burglaries and two arrests; 106 incidences of grand larceny and no arrests; 38 vehicle thefts and three arrests; and no arsons.

The VIPD is often criticized for its lack of expertise and competence of its police officers.

VIPD Commissioner Elton Lewis admitted at a press conference on Monday, November 21 that “staffing throughout the VIPD remains an issue.”

“Staffing is an issue throughout the VIPD,” said Commis-sioner Lewis. “Until we are able to acquire competent people on the force it will always be an issue.”

While staffing is partly to blame for the low arrest rates, witnesses are the biggest factor in the number of arrests being made, according to VIPD spokesperson Sgt. Thomas Hannah.

“Yes, staffing is a part of it, but the overall picture is that if there are no witnesses, if there is no evidence to tie a particular individual to a crime, it’s difficult to make an arrest,” said Sgt. Hannah. “We are improving on it – we’re getting more cooperation from the general public that is providing us with the information to make these arrests.”

While witnesses are the most important element in a crime being solved, money is a factor as well, Sgt. Hannah added. Witnesses Most Important
“Without a doubt, witnesses are most important in solving crimes,” he said. “Yes we want to improve manpower, but it takes money – everything is possible when you have a budget in place.”

Commissioner Lewis briefly touched on budget issues at the November 21 press conference. “I don’t want to say that money is an issue,” said the Commissioner. “But you never have enough.”

“Yes, we can utilize more funding but we need that witness who was in that place and saw something to come forward,” Sgt. Hannah added. “By doing that, we are able to solve many of these incidents that are occurring.”

Sgt. Hannah stressed the importance of looking at the types of crimes committed and pointed out certain crimes are very difficult to solve.

“Burglaries don’t have a witness in many instances – a person will burglarize a home when there are no witnesses in the area,” said the VIPD spokesman.