Two wrongs don't make a right in crime
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Over the recent months, we have seen an increase in shooting incidents here in the territory, from possible self-inflicted injuries (based on medical opinion) because of mishandling a firearm, to murders taking place in the presence of numerous people.
It is disturbing to know that in many of the cases, bystanders (associates, family and friends of the deceased or injured) are removing firearms and other evidence from the deceased or injured person or crime scene prior to police arriving on the scene.
That, along with bystanders failing to come forward to state what they witnessed, even if their own family member was the person killed or injured, is hampering police efforts in having timely closure in the investigation. If an investigation leads to the identity of a person or people who tampered with, or removed evidence from a crime scene, we will move forward in prosecuting that person or people to the full extent of the law.
We understand the concern some may have in coming forward with information on a crime that took place. We are finding, though, that some of the very same people who are withholding information, even if the information would bring closure to a murder investigation involving their family member as a victim or suspect, are either becoming victims themselves, or are being suspects in crimes that occur after the initial incident.
This must cease. Two wrongs don't add up to a right, no matter how many times you add it up. Families are losing their loved ones one-by-one because of this one word: retaliation.
When will this end? When will people realize this is putting their entire family and anyone in their presence in jeopardy? As a result of this ongoing retaliation, innocent bystanders are being seriously hurt or killed. This in turn begins another spiral of retaliations involving other families.
Business owners, managers and security at some of the locations where these incidents are occurring have to do their part also in preventing some of these occurrences. Moving those involved in a disturbance outside or turning a blind eye to a disturbance and not notifying law enforcement only leads to the matter resulting in people being seriously hurt or worse.
Illegal activity is being condoned by some employees, including security, at some of these late night businesses. Business owners have a responsibility to their patrons by having adequate security and lighting and by taking all necessary steps to ensure their safety at all times.
The Virgin Islands Police Department and other departments and agencies having oversight in the licensing process of these businesses will closely monitor them to ensure that all necessary requirements and obligations are met. Failing to follow protocol will result in a recommendation for the revocation of the license to operate.
We as a community are hurting. We are being terrorized by a small few who have no regard for their safety, their families and loved ones safety, and for everyone else's safety. Be cognizant of who your friends are, who they are associated with and the places you frequent.
If you observe that certain illegal activity is being condoned at establishments you may frequent, refrain from patronizing them. Look out for your friends and loved ones. If a situation arises, try and get him or her to leave the area before the matter gets out of control leading to someone getting seriously hurt or killed.
We as a community have to take whatever steps necessary to deter this ongoing disregard for life and property. Police officers cannot be everywhere, but the reality is, our fellow citizens are, in most instances, present when these serious crimes occur. Officers will continue to conduct as many inspections as possible at the businesses in question. We will continue to follow up on every lead no matter how insignificant the person giving the information feels it is.
We as a community can accomplish great things, and we have seen this by the countless people who call with information assisting in bringing closure to crimes that have occurred, or crimes being planned in some instances. Crime Stoppers is a great tool and has assisted in numerous cases. Information can be passed on anonymously to law enforcement by calling 1-800-222-8477.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have done their part by stepping forward with what they know either in person, or through Crime Stoppers. Please continue this effort for the betterment of our people here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Rodney Querrard Sr, V.I. Police commissioner