Old St. Croix police headquarters left open, unsecured for an unknown amount of time

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ST. THOMAS - No one knows how long the Patrick Sweeney Police Headquarters, which was closed more than five years ago, has been left completely unsecured.

The building contains everything from hazardous material gear to police records to firearm applications, according to Sen. Judi Buckley.

During Wednesday's Senate Finance Committee 2015 budget hearing for the V.I. Police Department, Buckley said she found the building unlocked and wide open, in late May.

"It was propped open," said Buckley, who was visiting the property May 24 because she had helped raise money for a police department project that was supposed to get started near the complex.

The building formerly was the headquarters for the V.I. Police Department on St. Croix, until it was closed sometime in 2008 or 2009 because of structural issues, according to V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr.

Querrard and Assistant Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah, who is based on St. Croix, told senators they were unaware of the situation.

"We immediately took necessary measures to secure the building," Querrard said.

The commissioner would not specify how the department secured the building, which already had been opened once before.

"We're trying to figure out how, who took the bar off the back door," Querrard said.

Only a handful of officials have keys to the building, which the department used to share with the V.I. Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Buckley asked Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly to accompany her into the building when she found its doors propped open on a Saturday. The two found documents from the police department and the Motor Vehicles Bureau that contained Social Security numbers, alongside residents' birth dates, addresses, telephone numbers and photos.

"The government is supposed to have a government asset inventory program," Rivera-O'Reilly said.

According to the police commissioner, nothing was missing from the building, which he said he ascertained by walking through each and every room.

However, Buckley said that she has images of the building when she and Rivera-O'Reilly walked through it and that it is likely items had been taken.

According to Buckley, the lights were left on in some rooms, even though the department rarely uses the building, which floods and has mold issues. The electricity is on because one of the pumps in the building will continue to work, officials said.

Additionally, the building has holes in the roof, and there is a crack in the cistern, Buckley said.

While the government-owned building would cost several million dollars to repair, it may be worth not having to pay rent in the long-term, O'Reilly and Buckley said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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