Seventeen federal law enforcement
officers receive commissions as Virgin Islands peace officers
ST. CROIX, V.I. - Seventeen federal law enforcement officers
received commissions as Virgin Islands Peace
Officers today after attending an orientation on Virgin Islands history and
culture at Government House on St. Croix.
awarded to six agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), five from the
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and six from Homeland Security
Claude Earl Walker said, “This is our largest class of federal officers who
have received VI Peace Officer status, which is as large as some of the local
police academy classes. We now have 26 officers in total since we started. This
is one of the most significant law enforcement initiatives in recent history,
and as time goes by, the people of the Virgin Islands will see the benefits of
The training was
planned by AG Walker, in conjunction with Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett
and VIPD Commissioner Delroy Richards.
Acting U.S. Attorney Hewlett and Commissioner Richards were present at
the orientation ceremony. Chief Deputy AG, Joseph Ponteen, stood in for AG
Walker who was attending a press conference with Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp.
ceremony, Dr. Olasee Davis, a noted Virgin Islands historian and cultural icon,
highlighted significant aspects of St. Croix’s history from a military
“In 1917, the
island was governed by the military,” Dr. Davis said. “There were improvements in infrastructure
and sanitation, but the relationship with the locals wasn’t there until David
Hamilton Jackson and others fought until the military was out in the 1930s…”
At the end of
the orientation, Commissioner Richards and Chief Deputy AG Ponteen presented
each federal officer with a commission.
Commissioner Richards said he believes the changes are for the
betterment of the islands.
“There are folks
who don’t like the interventions of the federal agencies, but I welcome anybody
in that’s involved in law enforcement to these islands because it helps me,”
Commissioner Richards said. “It’s not my
fight alone; it’s our fight.”
Acting U.S. Attorney
Hewlett also gave brief remarks.
“I just want to
thank the Commissioner, the Attorney General’s office and the agents for
showing up today and finally getting this done,” she said. “I think that when
we work together, there’s strength in co-operation, so I think that we can do more
An act of the Virgin Islands Legislature,
Title 23 Virgin Islands Code § 3, enacted on Sept. 17, 2012, has granted
authority to the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department to issue
commissions as Virgin Islands Peace Officers to certain federal law enforcement
officers of certain federal agencies.
The Legislature provided that law enforcement officers of the following
federal agencies may be commissioned as Virgin Islands Peace Officers – Federal
Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Customs and
Border Protection; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Marshals Services; and U.S. Coast Guard.
Attorney’s Office, the VI Attorney General’s Office and the VI Police
Department entered into a written Memorandum of Understanding on the procedures
to be followed on the issuance and revocation of commissions and the respective
rights and responsibilities of the parties. A federal law enforcement officer
who is granted a commission is recognized and authorized to act as a Virgin
Islands Peace Officer to enforce local laws in the Virgin Islands, including
the power to make arrests for violation of Virgin Islands laws. Any federal law
enforcement officer granted a commission may use any reasonable force which the
officer reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself, or another
person, from bodily harm, while making a lawful arrest.
reasonable force may also be used, when necessary, to arrest any felon fleeing
from justice, when the officer reasonably believes either that the fleeing
felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others
or that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or
threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person.
During a similar
exercise conducted on St. Thomas on April 10, nine federal law enforcement
officers received commissions as Virgin Islands